Vaccinations – more choice

How to get to Etchingham

While vaccinations are progressing at pace in Etchingham (over 500 per day), on Monday morning, February 1, REACT (Rye Emergency Action Community Team) took part in a video call to the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to hear about developments with the vaccinations in Sussex. Several points arose which chime with work under way by Sally-Ann Hart MP, the Mayor of Rye and ourselves.

We learnt that there are now three elements to the vaccination programme.

– GP (Primary Care Network) arrangements for invitation to go to Etchingham as the vaccination site for eastern Rother and Rye and District. Invitations are normally by telephone call or text from GP surgeries.

– OR by letter from the national NHS system with an invitation (more details below) to go to an alternative vaccination centre such as Brighton, Folkestone or pharmacies at places like Ore. Patients in Rye and District are now receiving such letters. This additional option is designed to provide choice.

– OR by GP notified arrangements to visit the housebound or those in care homes.

It should be noted that patients may receive the NHS letter before or after contact with the GP surgery. Whichever invitation is accepted, vaccination records will be updated to reflect, but the NHS has advised that this may take a little time. A key paragraph is on the reverse of the letter:

You DO have a choice

“Choice of Location – You can choose to wait until your local GP services contact you if they haven’t already. If you would rather do that, you don’t need to do anything now or call your GP services please wait for them to contact you. More locations will also become available through the NHS website or by ringing 119 so you could also try again later.

“If you are unable to leave the house to travel to where you are offered an appointment, and cannot arrange for someone to help you, your local NHS services will be in contact with you. If you receive this letter, and already have an appointment booked to have your vaccine at a local GP service, please ignore this letter. There is nothing you need to do except turn up at your scheduled appointment.”

There were other questions of interest:

Q1: What happens to those in temporary accommodation such as caravans or lodges?
A1: They are advised to register as temporary patients in a local surgery.

Q2: What about young disabled people or elderly in sheltered accommodation?
A2: They will receive invitations just like the others.

Q3: Will there be any more centres in eastern Rother and specifically Rye and District?
A3: Discussions and work is under way, but no decision has yet been taken.

Q4: What about transport to Etchingham?
A4: There are options outlined on the card above.

More meetings will be held later with the NHS CCG to sort out issues as they arise. If anyone has a particular problem or question, then do please contact us through the REACT Facebook page.

Image Credits: Rye Mutual Aid .


  1. After Day 16 of the Etchingham operation I’d like to give you an update on how it’s going for us. Up to Thursday evening RDCT had taken 225 people for vaccination (plus the 5 drivers in our team) in 51 trips (taking an average 4.4 per trip) travelling a total of 2,627 miles. This averages at 51.5 miles per trip, which is brilliantly efficient given that we are taking people, not just from Rye, but also from Rye Harbour, Winchelsea Town and Beach, Icklesham, Udimore, Broad Oak, Northiam, Beckley, Peasmarsh, Rye Foreign, Iden, Playden and Camber. We are so grateful for the donations we’ve received from individuals and organisations that are helping to ensure that we do not charge anyone for their trip.
    If there is one thing that possibly could have been done better, I would say that it would have been explaining more clearly the scale of the numbers that the centre was aiming to vaccinate when Etchingham was being designated. Along with pretty well all of those who have been vaccinated there we have realised that to achieve those daily numbers would not have been possible at any site in Rye. And the co-operation of the 7 surgeries involved there means that the vaccination of those in care homes and the housebound can also be achieved.
    The aim of giving 15 million people their first jab by a week on Monday – that’s a quarter of the entire UK population over the age of 10 – was audacious. But audacity must be embraced if we are to get our lives back, – I am so proud of all who have embraced it: our driving team – doing different work (swapping school runs for vaccination runs) and extra shifts, all those at our surgeries working not just to give out the appointments and do shifts at Etchingham, but also to maintain normal GP services, all those working to support the Etchingham operation (eg those managing the parking who have spent hours out in the rain this week), AND ALL THOSE WHO HAVE GONE THERE TO GET VACCINATED AND HELP PROTECT THEIR COMMUNITY (and enjoyed a good day out!).
    From what I have seen, the (national) NHS letters offering an opportunity to get vaccinated at a different centre have simply caused confusion – they are sent to those in the top priority groups who are already being reached by their surgeries, no chance if you’re in a lower priority group to jump ahead, and there’s no transport available – you’re on your own to get there!

    • What a wonderfully energetic, informative and positive comment, Pat Hughes. Thank you for writing it but of course most of all all your work running the community bus service.

  2. I drove across the Marsh to New Romney for my jab yesterday which alleviated my cabin fever somewhat. Organised by the New Romney Pharmacy it takes place in the Old School close by the church. There is plenty of parking and it is simple friendly and efficient. I suppose it took about 10 minutes.

    If you fancy a wider choice, closer to Rye just go on the NHS website, follow the leads to Covid, ignore all the stuff about letters and click on appointments.

    When I did this the first time, I was offered Folkestone, Crawley or Brighton. I went back a day later and up popped New Romney. Appointment a few days later.

    Can heartily recommend the whole experience, and the drive was lovely!

    • Hi Jacqui,
      Just to clarify, vaccination isn’t available without the letter from GP or NHS. If you try those steps without, this message comes up:
      “You are not currently eligible to book through this service.”
      Glad to hear your experience at New Romney was a good one A nice outing!
      Best wishes

  3. Have been and had the jab at Etchingham today,and was hugely impressed by the set up there, but WHY hasn’t a vaccination centre been set up in Rye, the building is smaller than Rye College,The old Freda gardham school,and the new arts centres at Bridgepoint,all that could have accomadated the local population, so really the excuse there is nowhere in Rye is Rubbish,of course we have a fine community bus service for people without transport, but the expense of all the transport costs, and anxiety of some, i wonder if that is why as usual Rye and district are treated in this way,just like the district councils treat us. Having to travel 20 miles is really not acceptable, when other areas like Ore, Lydd and New Romney have this facility on their doorstep,and i sometimes wonder if there was boundary changes,we would be better off in kent.

  4. Congratulations to the Rye and District Community Transport team for their efficiency in organising the vaccination runs to Etchingham, one of which I enjoyed the other day – if only we could have stopped for a pub lunch en route. I now understand better why the modern Etchingham venue was chosen – it can comfortably accommodate large numbers of people waiting in airy pre and post vaccination areas, has suitable storage and plenty of parking. As this massive programme unfolds maybe The Rye Hub will be put to use in the near future but without detailed knowledge of the requirements of such an operation, we should not cast doubt on decisions reached, which undoubtedly are giving a happy outcome.

  5. The places for getting covid jabs until now have been limited. It has not made sense to me for the older ones to travel some distance especially when many have been shielding for many months. As more places are now being opened up it will be those in the younger group that will not need to travel so far. Can anyone explain to me as why there was not a vaccination centre in Rye? One really good place comes to mind is the Rye Leisure Centre lots of parkin & very central.

    • … for logistics, speed, staffing and efficiency I suppose it was important to create centralised vaccination locations, each with the greatest possible reach of the local/regional population.

      By definition, no matter where these are located, the majority of people would inevitably need to travel to them to attend their appointment. Given the circumstances and how stretched our national health resources are, at this point there cannot possibly be a vaccination centre local to everyone.

  6. Having heard this NHS letter has arrived through the letterbox after people have either had their vaccination, or been given an appointment by phone, I have wondered what the purpose is of sending it and feel it is a waste of NHS money. However, when I received the letter last Friday I decided to ring ‘119’ and, within a very short time, I was being offered an appointment this coming Friday at New Romney. This surprised me and I told the young man on the phone that I thought I was to go to Etchingham. He replied he did not have Etchingham, that would come through my surgery and that New Romney was the closest he could offer me. He also said I would need to book my 2nd dose at the same time and offered me early May (12 weeks) at Laycocks Pharmacy in Ore. (I understand that those who were vaccinated at Etchingham have not been given a date yet for their 2nd dose, all a bit confusing!) Both venues I have been given are easily accessible by the Stagecoach bus, or by car and the journeys will be shorter, quicker and on main roads. Before I had finished talking with the man I had received a text for each appointment, including a reference number for each date. Very efficient and I accepted straight away as I have never been in favour of the decision to use the Etchingham venue for Rye residents. As yet I have not been offered an appointment by the GP, so feel the letter has been of benefit to myself, but am aware I could have been offered venues further away. Janet & Chris have made a valid point about the older residents having to make a longer journey when many have been shielding and especially when they have had to use the bus for transport along with other people. It would have been much “greener”, and cheaper, to have had a venue locally.

  7. Your so right Margaret as usual Rye is forgotten and bottom of the pile,just like the district councils treat us, lydd and New Romney are quite close to one and other, so the people are not inconvenienced like us at Rye, yes its good for some to have free transport to Etchingham, but somebody has got to bare the brunt of the costs.


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