In a bid to ensure more residents in Swanage and across Purbeck can get their Covid booster jabs at Wareham Hospital, a new text booking system is being introduced.
The Purbeck Primary Care Network, which organises the vaccinations for the area, is rolling out the new booking process to address local residents’ frustrations and to ensure that everyone who needs a booster jab can get one locally.
This has become even more important with the recent discovery of the new Covid variant Omicron which is believed to be highly transmissible.
New text booking system
The text booking system will be for patients registered at Swanage Medical Practice, Corfe Castle Surgery, Wareham Surgery, Bere Regis Surgery, Sandford Surgery and The Wellbridge Practice.
For the roll out of the first and second vaccines, there was a local booking system. Having established an online national booking system, the government encouraged everyone to use it.
Many people across Dorset have struggled
However with the closure of large vaccination centres like the Bournemouth International Centre (the BIC) as they returned to their primary purpose of hosting events, many people across Dorset have struggled to book local slots.
Swanage residents logging onto the national booking system have, at times, been offered the options of Southampton or the Isle of Wight. While others from Weymouth or Dorchester have been offered Wareham.
Recognising patients’ exasperation, local GP surgeries have been booking its oldest and most vulnerable appointments at Wareham Hospital but that has been a time consuming process.
Receive a text from their surgery
Now people in Purbeck who haven’t already received their booster but are eligible and have their mobile phone number registered with their GP, will receive a text from their surgery, with a link to book a Wareham Hospital booster slot.
Lead clinical GP, Dr Tracy Crickmore said:
“Purbeck PCN vaccination centre at Wareham Hospital continues to run a mix of booking systems in an attempt to efficiently fill our clinics and make sure a high percentage of our slots are used for Purbeck residents.
“Initially the National Booking System was resulting in large numbers of out of area patients using Wareham but in recent weeks locals have booked more of the NBS slots.
“We have also run parallel ‘booked by surgeries’ slots but this is quite intensive on surgery staff time and they are extremely busy.”
Aware that many are rightfully wary of scam texts, the Purbeck Primary Care Network says that patients should expect the text to invite them to book their COVID-19 booster vaccination, with a link to the Wareham Hospital booking system.
Genuine texts will end with the name of the patient’s GP surgery and say it is on behalf of the Purbeck Primary Care Network.
“We are currently vaccinating about 2,000 patients a week”
Dr Tracy Crickmore added:
“If you do not have a mobile, your surgery will contact you directly, so you should still get an appointment. Hopefully this system will allow locals to book a convenient slot at Wareham Hospital and we will fill empty slots by continuing to release NBS slots on a rolling basis.
“All existing bookings by surgeries or on NBS are still valid so please do not book an extra appointment if you already have one! We are currently vaccinating about 2,000 patients a week.”
The Purbeck Primary Care Network is also asking people not to phone their surgery but wait for a text or book on the national booking system if a suitable appointment comes up.
The texts are being sent out in batches in age order and people are being encouraged to book as soon as they receive the text.