Calls for a Harborough's St Luke's Hospital to be used as a Covid vaccine site
Veteran health campaigner says it is 'an ideal site for this national emergency'
A leading Harborough councillor is calling for a Market Harborough hospital to be deployed quickly to give people the new Covid vaccines.
Cllr Phil Knowles is urging health chiefs to open up the £7.5 million St Luke’s Hospital on Leicester Road now to treat and protect thousands of local patients.
The veteran health campaigner spoke to the Harborough Mail as the Government is launching over 2,700 coronavirus vaccination sites throughout the country.
“I’ve been talking to more and more of my constituents about using St Luke’s Hospital to give the vaccines to people.
“I fought for nigh on 30 years to bring St Luke’s to people across Market Harborough,” said Cllr Knowles, who heads up the Liberal Democrats on Harborough council.
“It’s a fantastic new building, opened up less than four years ago, and an ideal site for this national emergency.
“The hospital has got good car parking capacity – and we also have the endoscopy unit there which can be deployed too.
“And it’s highly accessible and easy to get to.
“There are so many positives about bringing St Luke’s into this desperate battle to beat Covid.
“This horrific virus is a killer.
“It’s already killed and hit far too many people and families both in Harborough and nationwide,” stressed Cllr Knowles.
“We have to get our brilliant new vaccines rolled out urgently.
“The new Oxford AstraZenica version is more practicable and easier to use than the Pfizer – so we could vaccinate more people faster.
“We have to work together in this campaign – with medical centres, hospitals, pharmacies and other venues all being put to work.
“Collaboration and co-operation are the vital key here.
“As for St Luke’s, I’m sure we could also explore ways of taking patients there to be jabbed.
“Our local health leaders should leap on this as a glorious opportunity.
“We have a magnificent health resource and space at St Luke’s - so let’s use it.
“Time is all important.
“We can’t afford to waste a minute.
“So let’s march on now and make the most of St Luke’s Hospital as we try to make people safe and get Harborough back to normal.”
A spokeswoman for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) told the Mail: “We are grateful for offers of sites but it is not just a case of finding vacant space.
“There are stringent national requirements that need to be met for us to carry out Covid vaccinations.
“Strict criteria are applied to all potential Covid vaccination sites, which need to go through a national assurance process in order to be approved. “We also need to bear in mind that at some hospitals, such as St Luke’s Hospital, there is unlikely to be sufficient space due to other important health services currently being provided from the site.”
She added: “Setting up the current sites has taken a huge effort, in a short space of time, to start vaccinating as quickly as possible.
“The first vaccine - Pfizer - has complex storage requirements and so has been limited to a number of sites dispersed across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
“The supply of vaccine is increasing as two new vaccines have been authorised that don’t have the same level of complexity as the Pfizer vaccine.
“We will adapt our local programme and plan, including looking at additional sites, to accelerate progress and make the vaccines more locally accessible for people.”