Elderly people queue in the cold for Covid-19 vaccine at Forest Hill GP surgery

Elderly people have been queuing in the cold to receive the Covid-19 vaccine with wait times of up to three hours at a Lewisham GP surgery today.

The Jenner Health Centre on Standstead Road, Forest Hill, began vaccinations today for all patients aged 80 and over.

Andrew Richards had an appointment for his mother at 12 noon but was told it would be a 3 hour wait outside in the queue.

Mr Richards said: “They have a tough job there but as soon as my mum heard they were getting a batch, I knew it was going to be busy.

“There must have been between 300 and 400 people in the queue.

“Some of them looked really fragile and frail, standing around with blankets around them.

“My mum’s appointment was supposed to be 12 noon but when we got there they said it was going to be a three-hour wait.

“We had to go straight back home because my mum cannot stand for more than a few minutes.

“The queue was about 150-200 yards long. They looked like refugees standing around in the cold.

“My uncle has just come out of Lewisham hospital having cancer treatment and he had an appointment – I told him not to go because it would take hours to get in.”

People queue for a vaccine at the Jenner Health Centre in Forest Hill, Lewisham

A video, circulating on the social media platform Facebook, showed the queues stretching around the carpark and spilling out onto the street.

Many patients could be seen sitting on garden furniture or using walking sticks to lean on.

The queues continued all day until closing time.

David Hitchcock, whose 85-year-old sister was seen in 15 minutes, said: “I can confirm that I personally witnessed a long queue at the Jenner but it appears they managed to get extra help and opened up more rooms and by  4pm the appointments were basically being seen on time which continued until closing time.

“It was the first day of vaccinations at the Jenner and there were bound to be hiccups, especially as they were vaccinating people from a number of GP surgeries in the area.”

A spokesperson from NHS South East London CCG said: “This was early on the first day of our new programme and we have now already increased the number of staff giving vaccinations along with asking patients to arrive no more than 5 minutes before their slot.

“We will be contacting the small number of patients who had an appointment yesterday and weren’t vaccinated to ensure they are seen this week.”




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4 thoughts on “Elderly people queue in the cold for Covid-19 vaccine at Forest Hill GP surgery

  • 8 January 2021 at 23:17

    This is crazy my parents are over 75 one with copd and heart condition. The other has a heart condition was due there vaccine today. When they got there is was complete Chaos. They couldn’t park my dad can hardly walk let alone have to stand in a Lone for 3 hours in the freezing cold. They was so excited to get there appointment. But sadly had to come home without having it.

  • 9 January 2021 at 14:42

    I do not believe this has been reported correctly.
    My 85 year old Aunt had an appointment at 4pm, she was seen by 415pm. The Jenner were serving 3 practices, vaccinating 1,000 patients. Noted that some patients were waiting in the morning but I’d say most probably arrived much before their allotted appointment

  • 9 January 2021 at 19:58

    This is despicable, how on earth can anyone justify this arrangement. They ought to hang their heads in shame for making our elderly go through yet another terrible situation…it should never have happened

  • 10 January 2021 at 12:05

    If someone has offered this GP network a building which can safely accommodate 300 people socially distancing while waiting for the vaccine, fine – for clarity, that would need about 940m2 for 300 people, or 1250m2 for 400.

    If they haven’t – and I’m pretty sure they haven’t – then the decision becomes vaccinating or not vaccinating. The risks of waiting in a queue are outweighed by the benefit of getting the vaccine, and people need to recognise that and not moan on about minor inconvenience when they’re getting something potentially lifesaving.


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