Local MP Alan Mak has thanked volunteers from the St John Ambulance for stepping forward to provide vital support to the Governement’s COVID-19 vaccination programme following a visit to their Bedhampton training centre. The visit came as St John marked a year since it started providing pandemic support to the health service.
Mr Mak was able to observe part of the training given to vaccination volunteers who have been recruited from existing St John volunteers, people previously trained in first aid by the charity, and the general public. All volunteers must pass strict selection criteria and receive appropriate clinical training, including official courses developed in partnership with and approved by NHS England.
Nationally, St John Ambulance has trained around 30,000 volunteers to support with COVID-19 vaccinations. These volunteers are performing a variety of roles, including caring for people before and after their vaccinations at NHS vaccination centres. Some volunteers are administering vaccinations themselves, supervised by a healthcare professional.
It comes after Mr Mak proposed a new Bill in Parliament last year, backed by the Health Secretary, for a new NHS Reserve service. The Bill proposed a new, uniformed standing reserve of clinical and non-clinical volunteers which NHS hospitals, health trusts and other Health Service bodies can call upon when staffing demands increase.
It is envisioned that staff and volunteers from the St John Ambulance would work alongside the NHS Reserves once the service is rolled out.
Mr Mak MP said: “I was delighted to meet local St John Ambulance volunteers who were training to help the Government’s vaccination programme. The dedication given by these volunteers is making a real difference as we recover from the pandemic.”
In normal times, the training centre is home to St John Ambulance's Havant unit of adult volunteer first aiders as well as the charity’s young people, known as Badgers and Cadets. Volunteer first aiders will be looking at providing event cover as local events return in line with the roadmap out of lockdown.
Annabelle Boyes, Chair of St John’s Hampshire County Priory Group said: “St John people, whether long-serving ambulance crews or new volunteer vaccinators, have shown how they can support the NHS during this pandemic. We’re really proud of all they’ve done, and very grateful for the time they’ve given, and continue to give.”
Picture: Alan Mak MP meets trainers and volunteers at the St John Ambulance training centre in Bedhampton