Two new vaccination centres have been opened in Hastings & Rother to supplement those at Kings Church (on the Ridge), Sidley and the Conquest hospital. Qualifying residents of Rye, Battle and the rural areas of Rother are being directed to Etchingham Village Hall, which started administering vaccine doses on 20th January. That’s a 36-mile round trip from Rye, but there are non-profit-making community transport operators who can be called upon to assist with ferrying clients. From last week, the Laycock Pharmacy in Ore also started a vaccination  programme.  

Both trained vaccinators and potential trainees are being urgently sought by East Sussex Healthcare Trust. They say they are looking for people who can work “as flexibly as possible”, including evenings and weekends, across “multiple sites”, including mobile and temporary units.

Meanwhile army personnel – members of the RLC (Royal Logistics Corps) – have been called up as supplementary ambulance drivers to boost SECAmb, the South East Coast Ambulance Service, whose catchment includes Hastings and Rother. There will be an initial deployment of 36 RLC drivers, due to start driving “within days” from depots at Gatwick and Polegate, after the Service had reported patient delays amidst “unprecedented demand”. Firefighters may also be diverted into ambulance-driving, according to Joe Garcia, SECAmb’s executive director of operations, and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed that it is happy to give support in this way. A SECAmb spokesperson said that the need arises from the number of regular staff off sick with Covid or having to self-isolate. There is no suggestion of army vehicles needing to be deployed.

According to government figures, the number of confirmed cases in Hastings in the seven days up to last Monday 25th January was 319 – a drop of 23% from the previous week. In Rother it was 238, a drop of over 37%.

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