A RETIRED nurse and doctor have told of the ‘scandalous’ training schedule they faced in order to help out in the Covid vaccination drive - before a sudden Government U-turn finally cleared the way.

Nurse Nicola Joy-Smith, of Sheriff Hutton, near York, said she had felt like ‘throwing in the towel’ because of frustration at the lengthy processes, particularly the reams of certificated training required.

Dr Frances Baker, of Strensall, said they had faced having to work their way through 31 modules, including ‘preventing radicalisation’ and ‘safeguarding children’ - even though children aren’t being vaccinated.

Nicola said she felt it was ‘scandalous’ that professionally qualified health professionals were having to go through so many hoops to become vaccinators, especially when they heard it was the intention to train up people who were unqualified to do the same work.

“We have been undertaking vaccinations, health screening and health services for more than 40 years between us,” she said.

“I retired from NHS employment a couple of years ago, and set up a small health and beauty business,” she said.

“I continued to do locum work for the NHS alongside my own work, until due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was forced to stop.”

She said she had worked for many years with Dr Baker, as part of a team of health professionals and they had become good friends and had applied individually to return to the NHS to join the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

She said that after an application process that started in November/December, she had spent three frustrating New Year/new lockdown days working through the registration problems which included accessing e-learning for health professionals.

She said she had contacted a local GP practice as she attempted to find another way onto the ‘front-line’ for vaccinators, and had a conversation with a practice manager, who was also concerned about the challenging bureaucratic processes.

But a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told The Press it had reviewed the process for experienced clinicians to ensure it was smoother and took account of their previous non-clinical training, and modules had now been removed.

“All vaccinators will continue to need to be trained on the important clinical aspects including the characteristics of the vaccines they will be using,” they said.

They added that the following non-clinical modules had been removed:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Moving and handling
  • Equality & diversity - this will be covered on induction instead
  • Fire safety
  • Preventing radicalisation
  • Safeguarding children – level 1

The spokesperson added that no delays in Covid-19 vaccination had been caused by accrediting volunteers or returners.

Nicola said it was a great relief to hear that the changes had been made, and she was now looking forward to being able to join the vaccination programme, perhaps at the former Askham Bar Park & Ride site in York.