Son’s Covid jabs fear as retired GP with dementia faces 20-mile round trip

John and Shirley Fenton

John Fenton, 92, and his wife Shirley, 88, live at Oak House in Stutton - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

The son of two retired NHS workers has questioned why the elderly pair are being asked to travel several miles for their Covid jabs while care home residents are jabbed all at once.

Tim Fenton’s father John has been invited for a vaccine at the Trinity Park centre, requiring the 92-year-old, who has dementia, to be driven 10 miles there and back from their rented flat at Oak House in Stutton near Holbrook.

His mother Shirley, who is 88, has also been offered a jab by post - but their son said there is no indication they can get appointments together.

Shirley and John Fenton

Shirley and John Fenton, who live at the Oak House supported living complex in Stutton, on John's 92nd birthday - Credit: Supplied by Family

Now he wants to know why Covid vaccines for those in supported living facilities cannot be delivered in situ, as they are in care homes.

Currently, NHS teams are going into care homes and jabbing all staff and residents, while priority patients in supported housing are being sent letters and invited to travel to vaccine centres and GPs independently. 

“My parents get their flu vaccines in their flat,” the pair’s son said. “I don’t understand why there should be different rules for Covid-19.  

“My father has been offered an appointment at Trinity Park and I could drive him to it but it would involve him being in the car with me for an hour or so and who knows what sort of wait at Trinity Park.” 

The Covid-19 vaccination centre gets up and running at Trinity Park in Ipswich.Credit-Sonya Duncan

John Fenton has been offered a Covid-19 vaccination at Trinity Park in Ipswich, a 20-mile round trip from his supported living flat - Credit: Sonya Duncan

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NHS chiefs say the vaccination centres have been set up to allow as many people as possible to receive their vaccine safely and efficiently.

A spokesman added: “Anyone unable to leave their home will receive the vaccine at home, but where an eligible person is invited to attend their local vaccination centre and can, we would urge them to do so."

The younger Mr Fenton said his parents, a retired Ipswich GP and nurse, have been “very happy” at Oak House and their care is excellent.  

But when it comes to the jabs, he also fears for other residents there, adding: “There are dozens of people due a vaccine in Oak House. They shouldn’t all be made to travel independently.” 

A spokesman for Housing 21, which runs the complex, said they are currently working with Suffolk County Council and the local NHS to book mass vaccinations at the firm’s care facilities. 

“So far we have been successful vaccinating residents at Mere View Court in Stowmarket and Paddy Gere House in Ipswich,” they added.  

“They are working their way around the services in the area and we continue to liaise and push for this.” 

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge is looking at the Fentons' case and said his office has been assisting all constituents concerned about the vaccine rollout. 

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge. Picture: OFFICE OF JAMES CARTLIDGE

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge. Picture: OFFICE OF JAMES CARTLIDGE - Credit: Office of James Cartlidge

He did not comment on the pair’s specific situation but said he was aware that care home residents are included in the first priority group, while those in supported housing are being prioritised according to individual circumstances. 

The MP also said he was told peninsula residents were initially being vaccinated at a slower rate “for a number of reasons”, and a special surgery is now running at the East Bergholt vaccination hub this Saturday. 

“This surgery will see the hub vaccinate hundreds of the remaining over-80s from the peninsula," he added.