Meet the women behind the Covid-19 vaccination programme for the NHS in Leeds

The NHS in Leeds is celebrating some of the women paying a key role in the city's vaccination programme to mark International Women's Day on Tuesday.

By Daniel Sheridan
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 11:45 am

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Sam Prince, Dawn Bailey, Emma Williams, Sarah Forbes, Penny McSorley and Dawn Regan are six inspiring women who have been integral to the running of the programme in Leeds, with the support of their wider teams and colleagues, the NHS said.

Since the rollout of covid vaccinations began, more than 1.6 million vaccinations have been administered across Leeds to help protect residents in the fight against Covid-19.

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Sam Prince, Dawn Bailey, Emma Williams, Sarah Forbes, Penny McSorley and Dawn Regan are six inspiring women who have been integral to the running of the programme in Leeds, with the support of their wider teams and colleagues, the NHS said.

Sam Prince, Senior Responsible Officer for the vaccination programme in Leeds, said the awareness day was a chance to celebrate the "remarkable contributions" women have and continue to make to society.

She added: “As the lead for the vaccination programme, it is my role to manage, oversee and facilitate the roll out of Covid-19 vaccinations across all of our different communities to ensure everyone is offered the chance to be vaccinated.

"I feel a huge sense of gratitude to work alongside such brilliant motivational women in the NHS and the wider health and care sector who inspire me every day.”

Dawn Bailey, Chief Officer for Public Health at Leeds City Council, said ahe provides leadership to the programme and ensures "nobody gets left behind".

Sam Prince

"It is with immense pride that I work as part of #TeamLeeds to do all we can to increase accessibility, convenience and confidence for all communities in Leeds, particularly for those people where services are not as accessible", Dawn said.

“International Women’s Day is a day that reminds me of all that women have achieved together, acknowledging and honouring the importance of women and the contributions that we make each day to society.

"I am reminded of the inspirational women in my life, my mother, my daughter and my wonderful work colleagues. I am also reminded of the immense struggles of many women across the globe, thinking particularly today of those brave and strong women in Ukraine.

“I will continue to play my part in working towards a world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Dawn Bailey

"Together we can forge women’s equality.”

Emma Williams is one of the Lead Nurses of the vaccination programme in Leeds and has been a part of the programme since the early days of opening the vaccination site at Elland Road.

Emma’s background is as part of the Leeds Schools Immunisation Programme and her commitment and dedication to the role is often commented on.

Sarah Forbes, GP and Associate Medical Director at NHS Leeds CCG, said: “Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the NHS has faced significant pressures and challenges. Whilst caring for patients with Covid-19, health and care staff have also worked tirelessly to ensure patients have had continued access to high quality care across GP practices, hospitals and other healthcare settings.

Sarah Forbes

“In my role within the vaccination programme, I have helped to deliver vaccines from the surgery including during weekend clinics to help ensure we are protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities.

“As we celebrate International Women’s Day and reflect on the past two years, I feel proud and privileged to work alongside strong inspiring women in leadership across the Leeds health and care system.”

Penny McSorley, Deputy Director of Nursing and Quality at NHS Leeds CCG and Director of Nursing for the Covid 19 Vaccination service, said her role was to ensure the service delivers "the best quality care".

She added: "This means making sure that vaccination services are safe, clean, well-staffed and offering adjustments for people that need it.

"We have always tried to ensure that we put people and the populations we serve at the heart of what we do. With our motto of ‘leaving no one behind’, all partners are working together to ensure that the vaccine is taken into the communities in most need.

“I helped set up the original hospital hub for vaccines at the Thackray Medical Museum and since then we have opened a Community Mass Vaccination Centre at Elland Road, community vaccination satellite hubs in the city, developed a roving vaccination bus service, taken pop up vaccination offers all over the city and worked closely with Primary Care Networks and community pharmacists.

Penny McSorley

“I am very proud of what we have achieved with the programme. I work with many amazing nurses and strong female leaders who support each other and make me proud to be a woman in healthcare on this International Women’s Day.”

Dawn Regan, Nurse Manager for the Leeds Covid-19 vaccination programme, said she joined the team exactly a year ago.

Her role is to lead mass vaccinations for residents from two of the main sites.

"A year on, I have supported with the development of satellite hubs, pop-up vaccination sites and taking the vaccine out to the people of Leeds to ensure nobody is left behind", Dawn said.

“My role continues to evolve and the programme has provided me with opportunities in areas that ordinarily as a nurse I would not have thought possible.

“I feel fortunate in that I have had strong female role models in my life, none more so than my incredibly supportive mum and as a mother of three wonderful daughters myself, it is also very important to me to continue to be positive, courageous and hopefully inspire them along with other women generally.”

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