Heathfield Vaccination Centre Update

We have received the following update from the office of Huw Merriman MP. Apparently some local residents are registered at the Heathfield Practice so this might be of interest. (For everyone registered at Fairfield Surgery the local Vaccination Centre remains Etchingham Village Hall. Please see here for more information.)

Heathfield and its surrounds 

Updated 14 January, after speaking to the Sussex Community NHS Foundation this evening:

  • the website news from the Meads surgery, which appeared to cast doubt on vaccinating Heathfield (and nearby) residents, is superseded by more positive news
  • the Meads will be contacting patients from Heathfield and the Firs imminently to book our priority residents in for a vaccination at Uckfield
  • the ‘formalities’ referenced in that website article are now completed
  • I am led to believe that the patients will be contacted from this week with a view to vaccinations occurring from Thursday 21 to Sunday 25th January 2021
  • In the meantime, the vaccination team from the Meads are already covering the Heathfield area; they will be undertaking vaccinations in our care homes this weekend (a job we need to complete across Sussex in ten days time).

I am aware that Heathfield residents, and those from its surrounds, would like to be vaccinated nearer to home. I fully understand this sentiment and I share the aim for a further solution to be found as well. I hope to have further conversations with the NHS Foundation and the surgery to enable this to occur. 

I’d like to thank everyone in the NHS for helping to find an interim solution. I’d also like to thank our Parish Council and residents for communicating and showing patience. I am sorry that residents have not received the vaccination as quickly as other parts of Sussex. I am assured that Sussex supplies will be aimed at finishing each priority cohort before moving to another so I fully expect our area to catch up. 

Patients from Heathfield will receive their vaccinations at the Meads Medical Centre in Uckfield (8 miles away from Heathfield). This is part of the Greater Wealden Primary Care Network and this is where the group have determined the Pfizer vaccine can be best distributed. 

I have had a number of constituents contact me from Heathfield and its surrounding area asking why they need to travel to Uckfield. The reason is because the Primary Care Network covering this part of Wealden has identified Uckfield as the local centre to deliver the Pfizer vaccine. 

The Sussex Health and Care Partnership have also now set up a dedicated email address for all enquiries relating to the Covid-19 vaccination. The address is: Sxccg.vaccineenquiries@nhs.net

Update on Etchingham Vaccination Site

Update from Fairfield Surgery Patient Participation Group (PPG) 14/1/21

Rural Rother vaccination site – Etchingham

Update on COVID-19 vaccination service – GP led service set to go live in Etchingham next week

Thanks to an extraordinary effort by the NHS across Sussex, a new GP led vaccination service is due to go live next week to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to people in Rural Rother.

The GP led vaccination service at Etchingham Village Hall will be a partnership between Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust and the following GP practices:

Fairfield Surgery, Ferry Road Health Centre, Martins Oak Surgery, Northiam and Broad Oak Surgery, Oldwood Surgery, Rye Medical Centre, and Sedlescombe and Westfield Surgeries

The service will offer vaccine appointments to registered patients at the GP practices in line with the national priority groups, starting with those who are over the age of 80.

Preparations at Etchingham Village Hall are being finalised this week with the aim that the first vaccines will begin to be administered at the start of next week, subject to a confirmed vaccine delivery date.

The GP practice teams have been identifying their patients who are eligible at this stage and appointments will be booked in over the coming days.

In terms of the way the vaccination programme is being rolled out, the model for GP vaccination services has been agreed nationally and each area is typically allocated one GP-led vaccination site where all patients from a group of GP practices receive their vaccinations.

Each of the GP practices in Rural Rother have small sites and small staff numbers compared to large urban GP practices, and so did not feel they could continue to provide high levels of care for their patients and support the programme initially in the way it had to be implemented according to the national model.

However, this new GP led service will mean the GP practices and SCFT work together to bring all of their local knowledge to support the roll out of the vaccination programme to patients.

We recognise that at the current time, with one site at Etchingham, some people will have to travel further than others to get their vaccination depending on where they live in the local area.

We would like reassure everyone that there are discussions about further locations in the area and how the vaccination can be transported and offered from GP practices. This is a fast moving programme and over the coming weeks, there may be the option to provide the vaccine from more sites across our communities very soon.


The location of the GP-led vaccination service does not affect the speed by which people living in the Rural Rother area will receive their vaccination. The timing for when people will be able to get their vaccination depends largely on the availability of the vaccine and the priority group they are in.


If anyone is concerned about how they will travel to get a vaccine during lockdown, it should be noted that, under the national guidance, it is permissible to receive a lift from someone, pay for transport if you are able or there are some community transport providers offering this support in terms of transport for medical appointments.


You can find information about community and non-emergency transport on the East Sussex County Council website, or call the community hub on 01273 099956.

People are asked not to contact your GP practice but to wait until you are contacted. You will be contacted as soon as an appointment is available for you.

We are also asking people not to turn up early for their appointments. Arriving on time will help us manage the number of people at the venue and help keep our patients and staff safe.

The Covid-19 vaccination programme is the biggest immunisation programme ever undertaken by the NHS.  As we roll out vaccines, we’d like to remind people of 3 things:

  1. The NHS will contact you when it’s your turn, so please do not contact us beforehand.
  2. Please act on your invite when it comes.
  3. Remember Hands, Face, Space. It will save lives and help the NHS


Why is the vaccine not available at other locations?

As soon as the NHS started to make plans for the COVID-19 vaccination programme we began exploring where we could offer the COVID-19 vaccine to our patients in Rural Rother.

The sites need to be able to accommodate large numbers of people on a daily basis (at least 300 a day.) We also need space for people to wait for their appointment and be monitored for a short while after their vaccination.

The site also needs to have internet access, IT and facilities to be able to carry out the vaccination safely and in line with government guidance.

We have received incredible support from our communities and our partners with helpful suggestions of locations. However, the tight criteria meant that other sites, some of which were more centrally located, were not suitable.


More information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme is available here: https://www.sussexhealthandcare.uk/keepsussexsafe/sussex-covid-19-vaccination-programme/covid-19-vaccination-sites/


Stay vigilant after two catalytic converter thefts

Received from PCSO Emma Phillips…

Overnight we have received two reports of catalytic converter thefts, one overnight 11 January in Whatlington and a further one in Iden reported today, 12 January.

Honda and Volvo vehicles have been targeted.

We encourage you to continue reporting any thefts to us, so we can build a picture of the crimes and respond effectively.

Having spoken to the victims, these thefts don’t just impact the financial loss but weigh heavy on the need of transport and inconvenience at such a difficult time.

Steps to protect your vehicle include parking in a garage overnight or in a secure compound. If this is not possible, people are urged to park in an area that’s well-lit and overlooked.

We encourage you to park so that the convertor can’t be easily reached by potential thieves. Vehicles that sit high above the road are particularly vulnerable.

More information can be found on the Secured by Design website. Further measures on how to protect your car from thieves can also be found on the Sussex Police website.

Anyone who has been a victim of a catalytic converter theft, or who may have any other information including relevant CCTV, doorbell or dash cam footage, is asked to contact police. This can be done either online or by calling 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.

Former Ashwood Nursing Home Site Proposed Development

On Mon 25th Jan at 7pm the proposed plans for the former Ashwood Nursing Home Site will be discussed by the Parish Council.

The Planning Committee will be reviewing the plans and formulating their feedback to Rother District Council.

You can view the plans here: https://planweb01.rother.gov.uk/OcellaWeb/planningDetails?reference=RR/2020/1798/P&from=planningSearch

The Agenda and Zoom details will be available on the Parish website next Wednesday.

Members of the public are welcome to join and there will be time at the beginning of the meeting for public to speak.

Final Call for Primary School Place Applications for children due to start school in Sept 21

11 Jan 2021 from East Sussex County Council
Final call for primary school place applications
PARENTS and carers have just one week left to apply for primary school places for new starters.
The application process for children due to start school in September 2021 closes on Friday, January 15.

Although parents and carers cannot choose their child’s school, they can state a preference for up to three schools ahead of the application deadline.

Cllr Bob Standley, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for education, said: “While there is no guarantee that a child will be allocated a place at their preferred school, in 2020 over 97 per cent of children in the county were given a place at one of their preferred schools.

“With the additional pressures placed on families this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, there may be parents who have not yet submitted their applications. I would urge parents and carers to double check that they have filled out all the necessary online forms before the deadline.”

Places are allocated based on the council’s admissions policy, or the policy adopted by the relevant academy, church, free school or neighbouring authority, which are available to all parents at the time of applying.

Children are not automatically given a place at their local school. If a school is oversubscribed and was not included in a child’s list of preferences, a place at a school some distance away could be offered instead.

Applications received after the deadline will still be considered but all on-time preferences will be allocated places first. This means that if an application is late, the child has a much lower chance of being offered a place at a preferred school, even if they live close to it or have siblings already attending there.

Full details of how school places are decided, what to consider and how to apply can be found on www.eastsussex.gov.uk/admissions

Parents and carers will be notified of their child’s school place on Friday, April 16.

Update on Covid-19 Vaccine Roll Out for Burwash and Rural Rother

Etchingham Village Hall has been confirmed for use for delivering the vaccine for the rural Rother area.

Preparations are in place and  when it is your turn you will be contacted by the NHS. Please do not contact the surgery to ask about the vaccine.

Further information can be found here.

Following Huw Merriman’s meeting on the 11th January with the NHS commissioners and the Sussex Community Foundation NHS Trust who are leading the vaccination programme for Sussex, Huw had produced a newsletter update which can be viewed at this link https://mailchi.mp/7a9df1d1ca35/constituencynewsletter-11-january-2020-7179421

His office have created links from his newsletter to related section on his website which provides more information on many of the frequently asked questions we are receiving on the vaccination programme as well as on enforcement of social distancing and the national lockdown. The related pages on his website can be found at this link https://www.huwmerriman.org.uk/covid-19-mass-vaccination

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service Community engagement during lockdown

Following the declaration of a major incident by the Sussex Resilience Forum, we have started a new push on community engagement.

The following press releases have been published:

How we can help: https://www.esfrs.org/news/2020-news/fire-service-remains-ready-to-help/

Plea over bonfires: https://www.esfrs.org/news/2020-news/plea-over-bonfires/

Working with SECAmb: https://www.esfrs.org/news/2020-news/working-with-secamb-to-combat-the-virus/


Covid-19 Vaccination Scam Alert to be aware of

Fairfield Surgery have made us aware that some patients are receiving fraudulent calls and text messages offering the COVID-19 vaccination, including asking for payment for the vaccination. Please click here to visit the NHS website for more information.

The vaccine is only available from the NHS and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. At present, appointments are only being offered to members of the public over 80 years old.

The NHS will:

NEVER ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text asking you to confirm you want the vaccine.
NEVER ask for payment for the vaccine or for your bank details.
If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, report it to Sussex Police online or by calling 101.