Penwortham cricket club set to issue its last jab as vaccination centre closes

After six months of running as a local vaccination centre and giving more than 23,000 doses, Penwortham Cricket Club is set to fully return to its original use again as the cricket season continues.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 4:01 pm

It is understood that the sports club venue, which has doubled up as an NHS hub administering the vaccine, has given in the region of 23,500 jabs to local people over the past six months.

The PCN site was first set up so that elderly and vulnerable patients "didn't have to travel a 40 minute round trip to get a vaccine" when there were few local vaccination sites in the area.

The Lancashire cricket club helped vaccinate 3,000 in its first month - with a small but dedicated army of volunteers helping to keep it running smoothly.

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The cricket club first opened as a vaccination centre in December

And over the last six months, the volunteers from the centre have given up their time to guide patients into the car park and ensure they are getting their jab on time before NHS volunteers from the Ribble Medical Group Primary Care Network gave them their vaccine.

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Penwortham cricket club, on Greenbank Road, was first contacted by the NHS back in November and was asked if it could become a Covid-19 vaccination centre and began vaccinating the elderly and most vulnerable in the community on December 22.

And for the past five weeks, the 150 club members have been playing cricket on its grounds on weekends, before it is brought back into use as a vaccination centre during the week.

NHS volunteers have since given out 23,500 doses to local people

Club secretary Andrew Bailey said: "When the vaccination centre was first set up we always knew it would be ending around this time because of the cricket season. In March they began offering the second vaccine and now, from Saturday, it will be decommissioned and brought back into full use as a cricket club.

"We have been playing cricket again on weekends and operating it alongside the vaccination centre. The NHS has been helpful in fitting it around training sessions since April.

"It has been a real community effort and that is why we got involved in the first place. The amount of hours we have put in and the amount of commitment shown by our volunteers is amazing and it is so humbling that we have been able to maintain that since December.

"We have vaccinated vast swathes of the people of Penwortham and have been open on average between two and three days vaccinating people. It has been a long and difficult six months, but our volunteers have been amazing."

Following a broken summer caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, off-season lockdowns and restrictions were expected to leave these facilities empty and unused, proving to be the perfect site for a vaccination centre.

But as the cricket season came back into full swing from last month, the centre is now being restored back to its original purpose.

Laura Scarborough, Primary Care Network Lead for the Ribble Medical Group Primary Care Network, has thanked the volunteers at the cricket club for their efforts over the past six months.

She said: "Penwortham Cricket Club have been absolute superstars in helping us to deliver the vaccination programme. From all the hard work in setting up and maintaining the site, to the endless hours of volunteers they have provided – we couldn’t have done it without their unwavering support.

"Their volunteers have braved the often horrendous weather conditions day after day for the last six months to ensure the local community get their jabs and all with faultless enthusiasm. We are so grateful to them.

"Back in November, we were very keen to set up a site that was local for the patients of our PCN (South Ribble) as at the time there were very few options locally. We didn’t think that it was fair to send our elderly and most vulnerable patients on a 40 minute round trip to receive their vaccination so embarked on the collaboration with the Cricket Club.

"We were a Wave Three PCN site which meant that our first clinic was back on December 22, way before many of the mass vaccination sites were up and running.

"Our last clinic is tomorrow, by which time we will have delivered around 23,500 vaccinations to the local people. We made the decision not to continue to provide phase two of the vaccination programme due to significant pressure that the GP practices are currently under running and staffing the sites, alongside the huge demand of the day job."

- Eligible patients now have a number of options locally which can be booked through the National Booking System. Book or manage your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination at Nhs.co.uk or via the 119 service.

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