NHS community trust addresses hour-long queues at Stevenage vaccine centre

People wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at Robe

People wait to receive their COVID-19 vaccintion at Stevenage's Robertson House yesterday. - Credit: PA

The team behind the mass vaccination centre at Robertson House in Stevenage has addressed concerns over long queues that formed at the site yesterday afternoon.

As Robertson House opened its doors to its first vaccine patients yesterday, pictures showed hour long queues of approximately 100 people forming in the early afternoon, as eager elderly residents prepared to receive their jabs.

One 80-year-old man, who does not wish to be named, arrived five minutes before his appointment but was queueing for an hour. He described the process as "poorly organised".

He added: "Parking was a bit heavy, but at the end of the day I'm glad I got my jab."

National media outlets including ITV and the BBC also reported on queuing at the site yesterday, and questions arose online, with Cllr Bridget Smith from South Cambs District Council questioning the queues that were forming.

Now, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust has clarified what happened at around 1pm yesterday, and explained that queues formed because people were turning up early for their scheduled appointments.

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A spokesman said: "Unfortunately on Monday many patients arrived early, ahead of their appointments.

"Despite being asked to wait in the car park, many decided to get out of their vehicles and form a queue outside the entrance to the vaccination centre.

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"Fortunately, new processes were swiftly put in place to greatly reduce the time that people have to wait outside and this has continued successfully today."

Once inside the conference centre, the consensus was clear and many, including 88-year-old Deryck Rhodes, had nothing but praise for the vaccination team.

He said: "Today is a very special day. Having the vaccination means we can eventually return to some degree of normality.

man receives covid-19 vaccination

Deryck Rhodes, 88 from Hartford, receives his vaccination at Stevenage's Robertson House. - Credit: Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust

"Considering this was the first day that the vaccination centre opened here at Robertson House, I really can’t complain. This represents an incredible undertaking and gives me definitely peace of mind. It would be regrettable if other elderly people like myself don’t take this opportunity to get vaccinated.” 

Sharon Taylor, Stevenage Borough Council's leader, also says her team sent eight people to help marshal any queues that formed this morning.

"We have sent eight people from our team to help with the marshalling this morning, so hopefully it will be better.

"One issue yesterday was people arriving very early for their appointments which just made the queue longer."

HCT has already confirmed that they have tripled the number of inoculation booths from four to 12, creating a much quicker and streamlined process.

And the NHS East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group is also asking those arriving for their vaccination to please not arrive ahead of schedule as this could cause queues.

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