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As the first Birthday of the York Vaccination Centre at Askham Bar approaches, York healthcare provider Nimbuscare reflects on the immense challenges of the past year and looks ahead to a bright future for its growing team. 

A year ago, Nimbuscare, a collaboration of York GP practices, transformed a disused car park on land owned by City of York Council into what was to be one of the largest vaccination centres in the UK.

The land, adjacent to the Askham Bar Park & Ride site, was acquired last October, when the Nimbuscare team first began offering the NHS winter flu vaccinations as a drive-through service there. Nimbuscare has leased the York Vaccination Centre site until 2022.

By December of last year, the focus had switched to delivering the local Covid-19 Vaccination service from the site within the large white marquee, which soon became known as the ‘Tent of Hope’. Very quickly, in January, Nimbuscare was chosen to run one of the first National NHS Vaccination Centres, vaccinating people from far and wide. Those living within a 45-mile radius of the Askham Bar site could now attend for their vaccine, putting York well and truly on the map.

Nimbuscare vaccinators were soon vaccinating up to 4,000 people per day and, to date, have delivered more than 370,000 vaccinations, equating to around one in every 250 vaccinations delivered nationally.

Although a walk-in covid vaccination service is still offered at the centre seven days a week and the 2021 winter flu vaccination programme will soon get underway there, a host of new services are also being introduced. These include preventative health checks designed to spot early signs of various conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke and dementia. They will be offered to eligible patients from each of Nimbuscare’s partner GP surgeries, together with appropriate lifestyle advice, at a series of clinics.

Nimbuscare will mark the site’s first birthday by decorating its Tent of Hope and exhibiting photographs taken throughout the year. It will also be staging its first ever Careers Fair, which is open to anyone with an interest in a career in healthcare. Taking place on Saturday 9 October, from 10am to 2pm, the Careers Fair is an opportunity to learn more about the wide variety of roles on offer with Nimbuscare and its member GP practices.

Madeline Ruff, Chief Executive Officer for Nimbuscare, said: “Looking back to last October when we started administering flu vaccinations from the Askham Bar site, it was almost impossible to imagine how instrumental it would become in the city’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been a real hub of activity, and our team of staff and volunteers there have coped admirably with everything that the pandemic has thrown at them. 

“During the coming months we will, once again, be offering flu vaccinations and covid vaccination boosters from the site, but we also hope to use it to offer local people an even wider range of services, including health checks for adults and children with specific conditions. It’s also exciting to see it being used to highlight the many and varied exciting career opportunities available in the healthcare sector at our planned Careers Fair. 

“In the longer-term, we’re on the look-out for a more permanent base from which we can offer these and many other services, but the York Vaccination Centre has played a hugely important role during the last year and we’re very grateful to our member GP practices, City of York Council and our many other partners for supporting us in our response to the pandemic and our efforts to give the people of York even greater access to primary healthcare services.”

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