Please see below, the question and answer session with Dr Julian Spinks, Medical Director at Medway Practices Alliance, on resident’s queries with the covid-19 vaccination programme.
Q) How frequently will the surgery provide updates on the progress or changes with the vaccination programme?
A) Updates will be provided as things change. Sometimes this can be at short notice. We will communicate with patients using the surgery website and also share relevant updates with SMIRA to share with residents as appropriate.
Q) How are those eligible for a vaccine being identified?
A) Most of the groups are based on age early in the process and this is an easy and robust search. When it gets on to at-risk groups, such as those who are shielding, a lot of work was done early last year to ensure these were identified and there are nationally mandated searches to re-identify them. The practice has been working on data quality as part of our recovery programme and have been working with a company called Clinical Analytics who use sophisticated systems to look for un-coded at-risk patients. As a result I feel that the risk of people being missed is much lower than 6 months ago.
Q)Does eligibility include identifying front line workers?
A) The group where data may not be complete is the frontline workers, but these individuals should be hearing of the vaccination plan via their employers.
Q) How is the vaccination programme being organised in our area?
A) The vaccinations are currently being organised via the Central Medway Primary Care Group. After proposing several vaccination sites to the CCG/NHS England, it appears that the site will be at St Mary’s Practice , Strood (NB Not St Mary’s Island) . This was because none of the practices our side of the river was felt to have suitable space for the Pfizer Vaccine, which carries with it considerable complexity.. Unfortunately the national requirement is for a single centre with no ability to change this or for patients to have a choice. Whether this will change as the Oxford vaccine is rolled out remains to be seen but any attempt to move outside the national standard operating procedures has been firmly rebuffed until now.
Q) If the situation changes and the surgery is able to offer covid-19 vaccinations, how will patients/residents be contacted?
A) The current proposal is to contact patients by using an SMS-based system as the primary route but with telephone, email and post as a back-up. We need to use a quick method because the booking (and cancellation) of appointments is likely to be at short notice at first. Appointments will not be booked by the practice on-demand as we are required to work through the groups in strict order and need to ensure a good match between the numbers of vaccines and appointments.
Q) Have vaccinations started in our area and how many have been vaccinated if so?
A) The GP vaccine centres have been rolled out in waves across the UK and no vaccinations have happened in our area.
Annual General Meeting 2020
The SMIRA AGM will be held on 27 November 2020 at 19h30 via Zoom. Please see the meeting page for up to date information.
The minutes for last year's AGM as well as information on SMIRA accounts and voting for new SMIRA board members is in an 8 page booklet that has been put into all post boxes on St Mary's Island, or you can click on the image below to see an electronic copy. A copy has also been posted up on the Central Walk notice board.
On Wednesday, 5 August 2020, NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and DMC Healthcare agreed to mutually terminate three primary care contracts, meaning DMC Healthcare will no longer be the provider for the surgeries concerned from Wednesday, 2 September 2020.
The surgeries are: St Werburgh Medical Practice, Hoo, and its branch surgeries in Lower Stoke and Yellow Suite at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre; St Mary’s Island Surgery, Chatham, and its branch surgeries at Green Suite at Balmoral Gardens Healthy Living Centre, Twydall, the Pentagon Centre and the Sunlight Centre Surgery; and Kings Family Practice, Chatham.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) took urgent enforcement action at both St Werburgh Medical Practice and St Mary’s Island Surgery, which also applied to the relevant branch surgeries. Temporary provider Medway Practices Alliance (MPA) is currently running these surgeries with support from the CCG.
Patients can still call their usual surgery to access appointments and prescriptions. They do not need to find a new GP or take any other action.
Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with DMC Healthcare which is in the best interest of our patients. There will now be a handover period between DMC and MPA, the temporary provider, although much of this work is already in progress. A similar caretaking arrangement will also be put in place at Kings Family Practice.
“We can now move on to securing a long-term future for these surgeries that will provide patients with high quality, sustainable healthcare. We will begin to talk to other local GPs to find a solution and will be engaging with patients and other stakeholders in due course.
“Patients will continue to be cared for by the temporary provider until a long-term solution is in place so they can call their usual surgery to access services.”
CMT statement on SMI play areas
As residents will be aware, all the publicly owned play areas across Medway are now open to the public. Since the Government provided further guidance on opening and operation / maintenance, the Trust has been reviewing the guidance and working through the implications of opening the 3 play areas. Unfortunately the guidance is particularly onerous for private owned play areas compared to the fairly relaxed guidance for publicly owned ones. This has meant that the Trust has had to look at putting safety and security measures in place in addition to those required for public play areas, resulting in the delay in opening the SMI play areas.
The Trust has received many enquiries on the issue. We wish to assure residents that it is our intention to open the play areas as soon as it is practically possible once we are able to make the necessary provisions to ensure that we adhere to the Government guidance imposed upon us. We would ask residents for their patience while the Trust’s Estates Team completes the safety/security review and implementation process. We hope to confirm next week the opening date and necessary restrictions and control measures that will be put into place.
CMT notice on Medway Council and cleaning of SMI adopted roads
After months of working with the Council we have finally received a schedule of works from them for road and path cleaning on St Mary’s island. Tomorrow the Council’s contractors should be on site to do a street clean of all adopted roads and paths and this should be repeated every two weeks going forward.
Please could we ask where possible if vehicles are parked on roads or pavements where there is a build up of detritus or weeds that the areas are left open so that the Council can have access to give them a good clean.
Your assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Chatham Maritime Trust
Update on DMC Healthcare
Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer at NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We are aware that DMC Healthcare has issued a statement explaining they are handing back contracts for both primary care and dermatology services. This is a complex process and although we are in negotiations with DMC, an agreement has not yet been reached.
“As always, our priority is to ensure continuity of care for our patients. We have put temporary providers in place for all the services affected and patients do not need to take any action.”
We have set up a helpline for patients affected by the suspension of DMC Healthcare dermatology services in north and east Kent. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm. The number to call and more information about the helpline is here.
The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England is asking local people for their help to draw up a new pattern of council wards for Medway Council.
The consultation is the first part of an electoral review which will re-draw ward boundaries across Medway.
The Commission has also announced that Medway Council should have 59 councillors in future: four more than the current arrangements.
In drawing up new boundaries, the Commission aims to deliver electoral equality for voters in council elections so that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters. The review also aims to ensure that the new council wards reflect, as far as possible, the interests and identities of communities across Medway.
More information can be found on Medway Council's website:
It’s tremendously disappointing to let you know that this year’s Chatham Maritime Food & Drink Festival will not take place due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation.
We have been monitoring developments closely ever since the lockdown and it has now become clear that with ongong social restrictions, the health concerns of organisers, traders and visitors and the risk associated with large gatherings, it was going to be impossible to organise, prepare for and run the event this year.
We’re already working on plans to make the 2021 event bigger and better than ever, so please keep in touch via social media and save the date for May 2021.
New dates: 29 - 31.05.2021
SMI Neighbourhood Watch Consultation launch
SMIRA launches its new consultation for residents feedback by midnight Monday 13 July 2020. To view the proposals click here.
Medway Council will shortly be commencing road works on Samphire Way as per the letter received by residents of Samphire Way.
SMIRA and CMT have discussed how CMT can provide support during this time to reduce the impact on residents. As part of CMT's ongoing commitment to residents, they have made arrangements for affected residents to park all day at the SMI Community Centre car park for the duration of the works.
Dean Marsh, CMT's Contract & Procurement Facility Manager said; "We are hoping this will help reduce some of the pressure that residents face, of not being able to park outside their homes, during this time".
SMI Neighbourhood Watch
As part of the 2020 work programme, SMIRA has been developing proposals in conjunction with Chatham Maritime Trust (CMT) for a SMI wide Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
As always SMIRA value resident voice and will be shortly publishing its proposals for residents feedback before delivery.
One Island, One Community, One Voice
Countryside recommencing work on St Mary’s Island
You may be aware that Countryside Properties, has over the last couple of weeks, started to remobilising their Construction sites, albeit with new health and safety procedures in place to manage the Covid-19 situation.
At the end of last week St Mary’s Island was given clearance to recommence construction. This week Site will look to recommence with the remaining, outstanding piling within Sector 15. The majority of piling remaining is in the western portion of this sector adjacent to the River Medway. This work will take approximately 3 weeks to complete.
Play Parks on St Mary's Island Closed from Monday 23.3.2020
Message from Chatham Maritime Trust
The play parks on St Mary’s Island have been monitored by CCTV over the weekend to see how these are being used by the public. It is clear that social distancing rules are not being observed within the play parks. Furthermore, we consider that risks of potentially spreading the virus are increased by the use of the play equipment as children use the equipment, as the hard surfaces of the equipment cannot be maintained as clean due to constant usage.
The decision has therefore been taken to close the play parks as of today. Signage will be displayed on the entrances to each park confirming the reasons behind the closure.
COVID-19: Flexible Payment Arrangements for Annual Rent Charge
At this difficult time for everyone dealing with COVID-19, SMIRA has been working with CMT to find ways to address the impact on resident income over the coming weeks and months.
CMT have agreed for this year that they will offer up to ten months to pay the annual rent charge for any resident facing financial difficulties.
Anthony Sutton, CMT Chair, says: ‘It is important that the Trust supports all residents who pay the annual rent charge by offering more flexible payment arrangements.’
Both SMIRA and CMT hope this will help residents in the short term.
The Easter Egg Hunt, SMIRA Meetings and Resident Drop Ins cancelled until the end of April at the Earliest
The SMIRA Board has carefully considered the ongoing situation with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the impact it may have particularly on our community. The Government is predicting the situation will get much worse over the coming weeks and is increasing the actions we need to take.
The Board has therefore taken the unfortunate decision to cancel this years Easter Egg Hunt, all resident drop ins and formal resident meetings until the end of April at the earliest. The Board will of course monitor the situation and decide on future meetings nearer the time.
Chris Reynolds - SMIRA Chair
March community events by Litter Free Maritime
and Living River Foundation
28th March, 9:30am at Central Point, St Mary's Island - Litter Free Maritime Community Clean Up. Please register on Facebook or on our website:
23rd March. 13:00, St Mary's Island - The Primary School of St Mary's Island is organising a clean-up. If you are one of the parents or simply just happy to help out and have a valid DBS check, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Any day of the week commencing 16th March - Year 3 pupils at Elaine Primary School are initiating a clean-up in the Chatham area (exact location to be confirmed). Again, if you are one of the parents or just happy to help out and have a valid DBS check, we would love to hear from you.
SMIRA update on parking consultation
The SMIRA Board is very disappointed that the new consultation undertaken by Medway Council and supported by local Councillors was launched online without prior notice to either SMIRA or by writing to residents first.
It is important residents have their say and SMIRA will use all its website, social media, notice boards and email to ensure its members are made aware of the consultation.
The deadline for the consultation is 31st December 2019.
To write directly to our ward councillors please use the following:
Cllr Habib Tejan
Cllr Piers Thompson
Annual Planting Day
Time for the annual planting day on the island. Residents were invited to help Chatham Maritime Trust and Gavin Jones plant the bulbs for spring next year. Thank you to all the residents that came to help!
On the same day, Living River Foundation organised a Community Clean Up. You can find out about future litter picks on Living River Foundation Facebook page here.