Yesterday in Parliament, Fay Jones MP raised complaints she has received from Ystradgynlais residents, about the distance they are having to travel to get to the mass vaccination centre in Bronllys, with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
In Powys over 23,000 people have now received a coronavirus vaccine, with three mass vaccination sites operating and GPs across the county also administering vaccinations. Having regularly volunteered at the mass vaccination site in Builth Wells, Miss Jones recognised the hard work of Powys Teaching Health Board, vaccinators and volunteers alike and thanked everyone involved in the rollout so far.
Speaking via video link during a ministerial statement updating the house on COVID-19, Miss Jones highlighted that some residents in Ystradgynlais – the biggest town in Brecon and Radnorshire – are having to travel over 50 miles to receive a vaccination. As a result of this, Miss Jones said that the local GP is working almost around the clock to ensure people who can’t travel get their vaccinations.
While responsibility for the vaccine rollout in Wales lies with the Welsh Government, Miss Jones asked the Secretary of State to confirm that it is within Powys Teaching Health Board’s power to make changes to the vaccination centres when necessary. She stressed that the vaccine rollout system needs to be agile and must not let the geographical challenge of rural areas get in the way.
The Secretary of State responded that the UK Government was willing to support the Welsh NHS in delivering vaccines locally and pointed to the work of the UK Armed Forces in Wales and across the four nations. He committed to meeting with Miss Jones to further discuss how the UK Government can assist in making sure people can get the vaccination as easily and closely as possible in Brecon and Radnorshire.
Commenting on the exchange, Miss Jones said:
“We have made a remarkable start to the vaccination rollout in Powys, and we should celebrate each and every one of the 23,000 vaccinations which have been received so far. Those involved in the efforts deserve our utmost gratitude for the service they are carrying out.
“That said, this rollout has not been without challenges. Residents in Ystradgynlais often feel that they have been forgotten by healthcare services in Powys, and unfortunately the logistical challenge of travelling over 50 miles cannot be overcome by some of the more vulnerable in the community.
“Having spoken to the Health Board, it is clear that the doctors practice in Ystradgynlais is doing an outstanding job at delivering vaccinations within the surgery but I want to make sure the Health Board is keeping a close eye on this to ensure that no vaccinations are missed, and the local surgery is given every possible support. The Chief Executive has assured me she will do this.
“If you cannot travel to a mass vaccination site, you can inform the health board via an online form and you will be referred on to your GP who will offer you an alternate appointment. My inbox is always open to those who are facing difficulties in obtaining a vaccine.”
The full exchange can be watched here.