Healthwatch Leeds boss on how city's Covid vaccine programme aims to 'make sure no-one is left behind'

The aim of ensuring no person in Leeds is left behind when it comes to the city’s Covid-19 vaccination programme has been praised by the chief executive of a health watchdog.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 6:00 am

As the voice of patients and residents, Healthwatch Leeds uses public experiences and feedback to influence the decisions made in health and care.

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This has included weekly surveys throughout the pandemic, focusing on everything from shielding and life in a care home to mental health and accessing phone or online services.

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Healthwatch Leeds chief executive Hannah Davies. Picture: Tony Johnson

Ms Davies said: “It’s our job to be out there listening to people in Leeds about their health and care experiences. We pull together those themes and take it to decision makers. We really will listen to make sure that the voice of people in Leeds is heard and is being acted on.

“Week by week, we’ve asked the people of Leeds a key question, things like a lot of health and care is being given non face-to-face, how is that working for you? How has your mental health been impacted? How are you finding it accessing your GP?”

As it became clear in December that the UK’s vaccination programme was poised to begin, this became another key area of focus.

“We wanted to support the planning around the vaccinations to make sure we got it right in Leeds,” Ms Davies said.

A Shot In The Arm campaign, calling for people to be provided with more easy-to-access information on the vaccine programme and its progress.

While 78 per cent of people initially surveyed said they planned to get vaccinated, 14 per cent were unsure.

Ms Davies said: “I think what we know from our wider work is there were certain communities where vaccine hesitancy was there.

“The city response to that has been very much about wanting to make sure no-one is left behind. Where we’re going to see the inequality grow is people haven’t got the right information about the vaccine.”

She also pointed to crucial work being done by groups like Black Health Initiative, Involving People and a range of third sector organisations to get key messages out to people.

It comes as the Yorkshire Evening Post and sister titles across JPIMedia continue our A Shot In The Arm campaign, calling for people to be provided with more easy-to-access information on the vaccine programme and its progress.

The campaign also asks for further reassurance for local communities and urges Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deploy the country’s network of 11,000 pharmacies to ensure that every citizen is only a short walk away from a vaccination centre.

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