Lorraine, why did you choose to support the NHS?

I feel I’m supporting more than the NHS, I’m supporting the drive to make some sense of this awful virus. Leeds Hospital is already treating NHS patients but this is something positive I can do on a personal level. The more we can do to help the cause, the quicker we can get to some sort of normality. I originally came from the NHS so this is something I’m really passionate about.

Tell us about the role you are doing? What do you enjoy about your role with the NHS?

I’m a vaccinator for the NHS at Elland Road (home of Leeds United FC) and the Thackray Museum of Medicine. These are just two of the 23 vaccination centres in Leeds, working alongside services provided by community pharmacists, NHS trusts and 19 GP practice networks (PCNs), which have already administered tens of thousands of vaccines to people at the greatest risk from COVID-19.

Both centres are organised so that people can sign in, complete their consent form and have a discussion with a nurse or doctor – if needed – then be vaccinated, all within 20 minutes!

As I’m seeing mainly health professionals for their vaccinations, the busy times are reflective of their working day. At the busy times, I’m vaccinating someone about every 5 minutes.

The experience is so rewarding, you feel accountable that you’re contributing to a big social effort. I’m getting to work with people I haven’t seen for years – I really enjoy that. I leave the shift, tired but absolutely buzzing! This is my final year of working before I retire and I feel supporting the NHS with the vaccinations is a pretty spectacular way to go out.

How is your role with the NHS different to your role at Nuffield Health?

My ‘day job’ is as a Senior Healthcare Assistant for pre-assessment at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital, so when a patient has surgical treatment booked, they first come on site for their pre-assessment to ensure they’re fit for surgery. I do patients’ phlebotomy, blood pressure checks, ECGs, as well as supporting the nurses too.

I use my clinical skills to support the NHS doing the vaccinations. I do a 3-point check on the consent form, give the vaccination, complete the paperwork whilst observing the patient after they’ve been vaccinated. I remember my first 2 hours of my first shift - I vaccinated 45 people!

Is working for the NHS different to what you expected? If so, in what way?

When you see the stories in the news portraying how the NHS are struggling with the sheer numbers of all the COVID-19 patients, that sways your perception to thinking the entirety of the NHS is on its knees. Turning up to Elland Road to see how organised and slick the organisation of the vaccination centre is, took me by surprise. The efficiency of how quick the centres are being set up and that it’s a real team effort from people across the health service, many volunteering in their spare time. Coming from the independent sector to do my bit to help, it’s such a humbling experience.

What would you say to someone else at Nuffield Health who is thinking of supporting the NHS?

If you’ve got the time - you have the skills the country needs right now, our colleagues in the NHS really need our help. Working together we can help get the country back to a form of normality once again. Just do it, I’ll never forget this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What are the people you are working with like?

There’s about five staff from Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital being trained up. I mostly work with a whole host of clinical NHS staff: physiologists, dental technicians, anaesthetists, nurses. They’re such a lovely bunch of people. All from different backgrounds, all working together for a common cause: making that vital difference.