A big thank you to everyone who took part in my Health Survey publicised in last month’s column. If you missed it, it’s not too late to complete and have your say here or by asking for a paper copy via my constituency office.
Whilst I am still analysing the results, there are a few definite themes that have emerged from the survey and the additional information provided by individual constituents. These include access to GP appointments, problems with local dental services, as well as the continued response to the pandemic. These are all issues I am pursuing, and I will continue to provide updates in this column.
Quite rightly, there has been an enormous effort by the Government, NHS England and other public bodies to encourage people to get vaccinated and have a booster jab. I am pleased that the uptake of the booster vaccination has been high across Norfolk. That itself, has led to logistical challenges for our local health teams. Whilst booked appointments have been the preference, to balance available staff and not waste vaccines, it has meant that available appointments are snapped up quickly.
Many constituents have contacted me, to raise concerns that they are not immediately able to book a vaccination appointment locally at their first attempt. A rapid widespread vaccination programme like this is a mammoth task, and it will throw up strange anomalies, as the system defaults to the next nearest appointment at that moment in time. Local NHS managers assure me that new appointments are added all the time. So, it is worth trying again later. More importantly, walk-in vaccine centres are now available at the Louise Hamilton Centre at the James Paget Hospital and at Market Gates in Great Yarmouth. Again, constituents have contacted me when booked appointments are cancelled at the last minute, Whenever, this happens I will contact the local team. There is normally a reasonable explanation, for example staff illness itself.
Working together we’ve managed to fight the coronavirus. New challenges, such as the Omicron variant will come along, requiring a change in approach. We will have to live with the virus for some time to come. But with diligence, and patience, we will return to a normal way of life.