Sheffield City Council: Dealing with the logistics so NHS can focus on the jabs

The council has played a crucial role in helping keep vaccination centres running and taking responsibility for many of the logistical issues so NHS staff can concentrate on giving vaccines.

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This is part of a series of case-studies published on 18 February 2021

  • Council provides a logistical support service to vaccination clinics
  • It has helped set up marquees, install heating, resolve parking problems and even organised extra bin collections to deal with waste
  • Public health team has worked with the NHS and local community to increase uptake, including the opening of extra clinics in settings such as mosques

Local context

Nearly 600,000 people live in the South Yorkshire city of Sheffield. The population is quite ethnically diverse with around one in five people from BAME communities.

There are 15 primary care networks covering the city – and each has a designated site for vaccination. There is also a mass vaccination centre at Sheffield Arena, which is run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Supporting the day-to-day running of clinics

The council has played a crucial role in helping keep vaccination centres running and taking responsibility for many of the logistical issues so NHS staff can concentrate on giving vaccines.

Stewards have been supplied to all the sites. They have been sourced from a combination of council staff, private security companies that the council works and some volunteers.

But this is just one element of the work. Ongoing support has been coordinated by Gary Clifton, who was in charge of major events for the council. “Clearly we are not doing events like we did so when the vaccination programme got running we were asked to provide support to the PCNs.

“The vaccination sites are all very different. We have one which is at a big centre with ample parking around it. For that it has just been a case of supplying the stewards and sorting out some signage. But others have needed much more help.

“For the Pfizer jab, patients have to be monitored for 15 minutes afterwards and some of the sites simply did not have the space for that so we have set up marquees and installed heaters.

“We have provided covered areas for people who are queueing to get their vaccines – we are doing this in the middle of winter and asking frail and vulnerable people to stand outside.”

If the vaccination centres have any on-the-day issues that need dealing with Mr Clifton is also the point of call. “I have worked closely with highways in particular, making sure the roads are gritted and paths cleared with the snow we have had recently.

“Just recently some of the sites have flagged up a problem with rubbish, from all the vaccines waste. We installed bins and arranged collections.

“It has really been humbling seeing how everyone has come together. The NHS are doing an amazing job vaccinating people and we all want that to continue so anything that needs doing outside of the clinical side of things we are there for.”

Humphrey Emery, Clinical Director of Sheffield’s Porter Valley Primary Care Network, said the support has made a real difference.

“The support we have received from the council has been invaluable from providing onsite marshalls and in keeping roads and pavements clear of ice and snow. Despite the terrible weather conditions we have managed to remain open and offer vaccination as promised to our residents thanks to help from the council.”

Working with community to increase uptake

Meanwhile, the public health team has played a key role in engaging local communities.

Health Improvement Principal Ruth Granger said: “Throughout the pandemic we have had a close working relationship with faith groups and community organisations and in the past few months we have been talking to them about vaccination.

“It has mainly been about explaining what is happening and how it is being rolled out so they can communicate with their local communities.”

This close working relationship has led to the creation of three extra community vaccination centres. Mr Granger added: “Some of the primary care networks were saying they were struggling to reach some of their communities so we worked with them and community leaders. They set up vaccination clinics in a few different venues.

“We have one at a local mosque and another couple in community centres. They are places that people trust and know and it looks to be making a real difference to the uptake.”

The council has also helped to coordinate free transport for people who struggle to get to the vaccination centres. “We started to get offers of support coming in,” said Ms Granger. “A local taxi firm said it would provide some free rides, while our community transport provider also said it could help.

“We have a council fleet that do the school run, but isn’t busy in the middle of the day. When we spoke to the primary care networks, they said this would be great to have, but they could not organise it so we have taken it on.

“It is about working together and everyone playing their part. We have had people coming in on days off and offering support. It has been amazing to see – it has been a “Team Sheffield” approach.”