Covid - A Year On: Retired GP helping to vaccinate hundreds each day
- Credit: Nigel Lakin
A retired GP is part of an army of volunteers helping to vaccinate hundreds of people in Weston and Worle each day.
Nigel Lakin, a former GP partner at Milton Road surgery, volunteered for the vaccination programme to support NHS staff who were giving up their free time to protect people against the virus.
Nigel and his wife Tracey – a retired nurse – are part of a team of volunteers carrying out vaccinations at Riverbank Medical Centre in St Georges.
He said: “One of the reasons I was particularly keen to get involved was because a lot of current NHS staff were giving up their free time in addition to their usual working hours to deliver the vaccinations.
“I know how tiring it is to work in general practice, and that this wasn’t sustainable. I wanted to be available, as I’m sure the other retired doctors and nurses did, so they didn’t feel like they had to give up their free time.”
Dr Lakin began volunteering when the pandemic hit – collecting shopping and prescriptions for people who were isolating.
He said: “When the vaccine campaign started I felt it was somewhere I could really make a difference.
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“When I was a practicing GP there had been concerns of something like this happening for quite some time. When I retired, I maintained my registration with the General Medical Council so I could help out in future.”
Speaking about the vaccination effort and the response from patients, Dr Lakin said: “I have never seen anything like it.
“When we first started vaccinating people in their 90s and 80s, quite a few were veterans and they came in wearing their medals. There was almost like a war-time spirit about the whole thing.
“There’s a real mixture of people working in the centre. There are several retired GPs and nurses, a retired police inspector, people on furlough including beauticians, airline hostesses, festival workers and people in hospitality. Everyone is pulling together and it’s a really nice working environment.”
The volunteers vaccinate about 750 people a day and also visit local care homes to give vaccinations to staff and residents.
Dr Lakin added: “It’s not often patients are pleased to see you – they are either in crisis or you want them to change their behaviour or take medication – but people receiving the vaccines have been really grateful.”