Stacey James, Reception Manager at Deptford Surgery

Stacey is the Reception Manager at the Deptford Surgery in New Cross. She has worked there since 2020, having previously worked at Lewisham Medical Centre.

She became a non-clinical vaccinator earlier this year, and according to one of her doctor colleagues, “has accumulated so much knowledge she is a real resource to our team and our patients. She has administered a squillion doses at various vaccination clinics.”

Stacey shares her story here.

Recollections from the past year

Working as a reception manager in a GP practice, you are already in the thick of it, but working throughout the pandemic, I also wanted to be able to offer hands on support.
My sister is actually a manager of the bank team at Guys and St Thomas, and she told me they were looking for people to train as vaccinators. I applied, was accepted, and started my training in January this year. I gave my first vaccination in February. I now do most of my vaccinations in the Waldron Centre, fitting in an extra four shifts, including all day Saturday, on top of my full-time role.

I remember how it was before the vaccine, before everything locked down, before people understood what was going on. We actually had to shut the surgery one day when a man who had been abroad turned up with a cough! It was really difficult to get patients to leave!

Misinformation was a problem early on

Then when we went into lockdown everything had to change quite quickly. It was a very different way of working, but we adapted. People were scared, some of them didn’t want to leave their homes. We had many calls asking for clarification because people were getting a lot of their information on social media. I’d say misinformation was actually one of the most difficult things to deal with early on.

We also supported vulnerable patients throughout, who stayed at home the entire time, they were scared, so we tried to offer as much reassurance as we could.

People were crying with happiness – for them, it’s freedom

When we started vaccinating, people were actually crying with happiness. It was a great feeling, and we were really encouraged by seeing the positive reactions of people. Doing something like this makes you realise the effect you are having on people’s lives. For them it’s freedom. It’s being able to see their families.

I actually vaccinated one woman today who hadn’t seen her mother for two years. This was her second dose, and now she would be able to visit her.

I’ve been working every day since all of this started, but many people have been shut indoors. This vaccine is offering freedom.

Throughout all of this, my team has been amazing. In fact, the whole of the PCN has been incredible. We even managed to have a little Christmas get together in the midst of everything, just the colleagues who worked together in the practice. All wearing masks, all socially distanced. But it was something.

Hopes for the future

Even knowing that there is a third wave possibly coming, the vaccination offers so much protection. I really hope people will be less worried, will feel safer, feel protected.   Not just in south east London, but across the world.