Essex Vax Van initiative a finalist for the 2022 HSJ Partnership Awards

Following the intense and in-depth judging process, Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership is delighted to announce that an initiative to maximise the uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations across Essex, is a Finalist for ‘Most impactful project addressing healthcare inequalities’ at the prestigious HSJ Partnership Awards 2022, recognising an outstanding contribution to healthcare – in what has been an exceptional and challenging period across the health sector.

Despite the UK’s successful vaccine rollout, COVID-19 vaccine uptake is lower among some communities facing access challenges. Such communities include those experiencing homelessness, ethnically diverse communities, travelling communities and unregistered patients.

To help address this, a specially converted Ford Transit van known as the Essex Vax Van has been travelling across Essex delivering vaccines as GP practices work together with local community leaders to safely deliver and administer vaccines in areas of low uptake.

The Essex Vax Van is a hub for dedicated vaccine clinics in the grounds of churches, mosques and other community venues. The NHS and partners across the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership liaised with community leaders and groups to fill pre-booked appointments and offer walk-ins to rally and vaccinate as many people from the local communities as possible. The vaccine van initiative aims to help continue NHS efforts to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to as many people as possible.

The bespoke Essex Vax Van vehicle is based on a Ford Transit and has been converted by West Yorkshire-based specialist vehicle builders, Venari Group. The specification includes medical-grade refrigeration with WIFI monitoring capability, vaccine transport coolers, a collapsible chair for administering vaccines as well as an integrated tablet for accessing and updating health and vaccination records.

Local GP, Dr Smitesh Patel, commented: “When I came up with the concept of the Essex Vax Van the goal was to give everyone an equal opportunity to receive this essential vaccine with additional support from our valued network of community leaders, Ford and Venari Group who tailored the van to NHS specifications.

“This added mobility the Essex Vax Van has provided has enabled the gap to be bridged for so many facing a struggle to visit their local vaccination centre. With this support, we furthered our vaccine rollout to many who without this initiative may well have not been vaccinated leaving themselves and others at risk from infection”.

Anthony McKeever, CEO Designate for Executive for Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System, said:

“This recognition really does reflect the collaborative efforts and dedication of our colleagues who have worked so hard to successfully deliver the Essex Vax Van initiative and I’m delighted it is a Finalist for these prestigious awards against some very stiff competition. The approach here is truly collaborative in addressing health inequalities for the most vulnerable or those who may have difficulty accessing primary health care or a vaccination site to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities where possible.

This is a wonderful achievement for everyone involved, and the nomination has been a tremendous boost to staff.”

Despite the demanding circumstances of the past 2 years, over 190 entries have been received for this year’s HSJ Partnership Awards, with 123 projects making it to the final shortlist. The volume and standards of applications has been a true testament to those health and social care staff, who continue to push outstanding work and transformational projects across the sector.

The judging panel was once again made up of a diverse range of highly influential and respected figures within the healthcare community, including Dr Matt Aiello (National Programmes Lead, Education Reform, Health Education England); Dr Elena Bechberger (National Programme Director – LVHC Programme, NHS England and NHS Improvement); Claire Igoe (Head of Environmental Sustainability - Manchester University FT) and Vinice Thomas (Director of Nursing and Quality, NHS England and NHS Improvement).

The full list of nominees for the HSJ Partnership Awards 2022 can be found on https://partnership.hsj.co.uk/finalists-2022

The selected winners will be announced during the awards ceremony at Westminster Park Plaza, London, on Thursday, March 24 2022.