Dr Sebastian Kalwij, GP Partner at Amersham Vale Practice

Dr Sebastian Kalwij has been a GP Partner at Amersham Vale Practice in south east London since 2014 and Clinical Director for North Lewisham PCN since March 2020. He has been a GP for almost 20 years.

He reflects on the events of the last year and talks about his hopes for the future.

Recollections from the past year

When I look back at last year, I really thought it would be over by the summer.  I think most of us did. Then in September and October as we were seeing another wave, it became evident that things were going to get very bad indeed.

I never thought a vaccine would happen so quickly. When we saw the news reports that they had developed a vaccine and it was effective, I felt a huge sense of relief.

When we received a phone call from the CCG to start setting up a PCN vaccination hub we were all really keen. We are frontline workers, it’s what we do, and we wanted to be part of this historic effort.  The only way out of this was the vaccine, and we knew we had to take part.

‘The vaccine brought hope’

We teamed up with Lewisham Alliance PCN, working on a model we had used before, and it just snowballed. Clinicians were keen to be part of this, as were members of the public, who were keen to volunteer.

Because of the vaccine, the first week of January had a much more positive vibe. People who had been scared to go out, who had been very anxious to leave the house, were now coming for their vaccine. The vaccine brought hope.

So far, we have vaccinated more than 70,000 people. It has been a great team effort.  We all pulled together so quickly, 16 GP practices, working 6-7 days a week. On top of our clinical work. As well as GPs and nurses there were volunteers, and non-clinical staff. This is something we all wanted to be part of. We knew we could look back in 10 years’ time and know we had been part of history.

Looking forward to living without fear

Like everyone else, I am looking forward to the pandemic ending and things getting back to normal. I want to see people enjoying clubs, bars, football, live concerts or travel, without fear. We all want to live without fear. Without fear of COVID.

I am also looking forward to seeing the booster being rolled out and hopefully that will give us enough protection for the years to come.