As the NHS celebrates its COVID-19 vaccine heroes, the spotlight is being shone on the valued contribution of patient volunteers on the Fylde Coast.
Patient participation group (PPG) members from GP practices across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have given up hundreds of hours supporting the mass COVID-19 vaccination programme throughout the past six months.
And to celebrate PPG Awareness Week, leaders at NHS Blackpool and NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), have praised the hard work and dedication of local volunteers.
Jane Scattergood, director of nursing and quality for the Fylde Coast CCGs, who is also the COVID-19 vaccination director for Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “Without the contributions of volunteers across the region we would not have been able to deliver more than a million vaccines to our residents.
“A true partnership between GP practices and their PPG can be worth its weight in gold and during this pandemic many of our groups have truly stepped up to the plate.
“I would like to thank all our PPG members on the Fylde Coast for the support they have given us and in several cases going the extra mile.”
A number of PPG members from across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have supported at vaccination clinics by acting as marshals, helping people to find their way when going for their injection.
Among the most prolific of PPG supporters on the Fylde Coast have been members from The Thornton Practice, who have spent about 200 hours at the vaccinations hub at Thornton Little Theatre acting as marshals since the site first opened.
Gemma Jackson, chair of the PPG, said: “We have a great relationship with our GP practice and, most importantly, with the patients.
“We spend a lot of time talking to people coming in for their appointments and helping the practice understand the issues being faced by local people.
“So when the centre opened at the Little Theatre, we asked how we could help and our members have spent many hours helping out over the past six months.
“This has also given us really good opportunities to talk to people we wouldn’t normally see to tell them what we are all about.”
In Kirkham, PPG member Pat Stevens (pictured) from Ash Tree House Surgery’s PPG has donated 300 hours, helping to manage the car park when people attend the vaccines site at Kirkham Clinic in Moor Street.
He said: “I am keen to see the vaccinations carried out and also to build my strength up after a difficult medical year so have attended all the vaccination clinics carried out by Ash Tree House Surgery.”
Dr Sayqa Azam, a GP at the surgery, said: “Our PPG is still relatively new but we have a very strong and dedicated group that provides great support to our team and to our patients.
“We’ve been lucky to have volunteers helping out on the car park, directing and generally helping people when they have come in for vaccines.”
Every practice in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre has a patient participation group. Anyone interested in getting involved can speak to their GP practice receptionist.
For more information on PPG Awareness Week, visit www.napp.org.uk/ppgawarenessweek