Health service workers, volunteers and those Thornton Heath locals arriving at a local church for their coronavirus vaccination appointment at lunchtime today were given an added boost when the Duchess of Cornwall turned up on a visit to see the operation in action.
St Paul’s Church, on St Paul’s Road, has been closed for worship since January, as part of the lockdown precautions. But it is being used by the NHS as an emergency vaccination centre in the middle of one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the borough.
According to sources in Croydon NHS, the royal visit was intended to make “the case for lack of uptake in certain groupings”.
Croydon councillors and other local leaders have publicly stressed the need for all residents to have the vaccination, following some resistance to the treatment from some sections of the BAME community.
Another local, whose parents had already been vaccinated at St Paul’s, said, “The staff are wonderful and diligent and caring. Nice to see them get recognition for their hard work.”
The St Paul’s centre has delivered more than 10,000 doses of the vaccine since it began its operations on January 13.
During her visit, Duchess Camilla spoke of her 99-year-old father-in-law, the Duke of Edinburgh, who has been in hospital for two weeks, being treated for a heart condition. In response to expressions of concern for the Duke’s health, Camilla said he was slowly recovering, though the treatment “hurts at moments”, and that the Royal Family is “keeping their fingers crossed”.
News and photographs from the Duchess’s visit to Thornton Heath were tweeted at lunchtime by Dr Agnelo Fernandes, a Thornton Heath GP and the chair of the South-West London CCG, the commissioning body which has overseen the rapid and efficient roll-out of vaccinations in the borough.
Dr Fernandes called the royal visit a “wonderful boost to GP covid vaccination site”.
The royal visit to Croydon follows the news that yesterday, a 49-year-old failed politician received his jab.
Lord Barwell of Croydon, the former Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell, tweeted his thanks to those who had made it possible for him to receive the vaccination so soon, and before many front-line workers and volunteers, teachers and those in their 50s and even some in the 60s.
“I’m not at high risk of serious illness,” his lordship admitted.
Challenged on how his lordship had been called for the jab so soon, the sometime chief of staff to the Prime Minister speculated that it may have been because he had cancer when a child, and therefore had an “underlying” condition.
Of course, it could also be because Barwell is a Conservative peer.
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Lord Barwell believing he was not clinically extremely vulnerable should have perhaps pointed that out to the person offering this jab and who ignored the priority listings, that they had made an error and should go back to the list and choose the correct priority. Clearly this level of chivalry did not occur to Lord Barwell nor in fact to Croydon NHS or Mr Nadim Zahawi the Under secretary for Covid Jabs?
Or perhaps Lord Barwell is a clinically extremely vulnerable person? I should point out that Lord Barwell did some notable good work with the action to get Driving under the influence of drugs and the honorable action to return the £8,000+ loss of office grant. So perhaps we are not getting a full picture and this was just an oversight?
His childhood illness almost certainly bumped him up the pecking order. If you ask others who are similarly mystified to be unexpectedly summoned you usually find something similar. There’ll be a flag on their GP record picked up by the system and the letter goes in the post.
When hundreds of thousands of people are being vaccinated each day no-one is going to check for outliers when they can be busy jabbing people; they are probably fewer than the no-shows and it really isn’t worth getting excited about such people however annoying they may be.