Local NHS leaders reflect on COVID-19 pandemic
Two years on from the first UK lockdown, health chiefs across the Black Country and West Birmingham have paid tribute to staff and members of the public.
The declaration of the pandemic was made by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in January 2020 and the UK went into full lockdown on Monday 23 March 2020.
Since then, health and care staff from across the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector have worked in partnership to provide services and support communities, as well as standing up new services in response to the pandemic.
From local authorities working to ensure essential services continued to run – such as administering much-needed financial and social support − to frontline NHS staff continuing to provide care for patients whilst delivering the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in NHS history, the contributions of key workers have been invaluable.
Dr Salma Reehana, local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (BCWB CCG), said: “When we went into lockdown two years ago, we had no idea what lay ahead of us. At a time when most people were told to stay at home to stay safe, key workers stepped up and tirelessly provided vital services to our communities.
“The pandemic has been a life changing event and has taught all of us many lessons, but the extraordinary way we have worked together across the NHS, local authorities, the community and voluntary sector has been fantastic.
“I want to thank everyone, particularly our frontline health and care staff, who have continued to deliver outstanding care to patients – albeit a little bit differently in some situations – and look after those most in need. It’s also important to recognise the role volunteers have played throughout the pandemic, so I want to thank all of those who have given up their time to support us and those in their communities who needed help.
“We must also thank GP practices and their primary care networks which have been at the forefront of delivering vaccines to local people, including the housebound, care homes and some of the most vulnerable patients.”
After launching at the end of 2020, the COVID-19 vaccination rollout has continued to expand with vaccines available at a variety of locations – from GP practices and hospital hubs to large vaccination centres and small targeted pop-up clinics. More than 2.4million vaccines have now been administered to adults and children across the Black Country and West Birmingham.
Paul Maubach, Accountable Officer for NHS BCWB CCG, said: “Since the start of the pandemic our teams have worked hard to not only treat all the sick patients who need care, but also deliver the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history.
“The response from the public to the vaccine roll-out has been absolutely phenomenal, so I also want to say a big thank you to every single person who has come forward to receive their lifesaving vaccine.
“We’ve come such a long way since March 2020, however it’s important to remember COVID-19 is still present and continues to pose a significant risk. The vaccine remains our best protection against the virus so getting a jab is the most important thing we can do to keep ourselves and those around us safe.
“I would encourage those eligible to come forward as soon as possible, whether it’s for a first, second or booster dose, to give them and their loved one’s vital protection.”
Walk-in appointments are available at selected sites, including The Saddlers Vaccination Centre in Walsall, Tipton Sports Academy in Sandwell, the Cardiac Rehab Gym at City Hospital and Saltwells Education Centre in Dudley. Appointments can also be booked online via the National Booking System or by calling 119.