Covid-19 Vaccination Programme wins prestigious HSJ Patient Safety Award

The award winners are grouped together smiling, holding their HSJ Award at the awards ceremony.

The Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) Covid-19 Vaccination Programme has won the ‘Improving Health Outcomes for Minority Ethnic Communities Award’ at the Health Service Journal’s (HSJ) Patient Safety Awards on 24 October 2022. The Award recognises the insight-led work of our Covid-19 Vaccination Programme’s cross-system Maximising Access Group (MAG), which works in partnership with communities to encourage equity of access and uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Its successful entry highlighted how analysis of public health intelligence by BNSSG’s Clinical Commissioning Group provided the early insight that in addition to being disproportionately affected by Covid-10, people from some Minority Ethnic communities would be less likely to have the vaccine. The scale and urgency of the challenge gave the Vaccination Programme permission to try new ways of working and led to the creation of the Maximising Access Group which has overseen over 41,000 vaccinations in community outreach clinics and seen the gap narrow in uptake between people from minority ethnic communities and white ethnicity.

Anne Morris, Chief Nurse for the BNSSG Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this award and the recognition it gives to the leaders from our local communities and all our colleagues across the system. They have supported and worked so hard to focus on equity of vaccination access, tackling health inequalities and improving outcomes for our local population. Working together we have harnessed collaborative partnerships across the whole system with communities leading the way.”

The Maximising Access Group includes BNSSG’s local authorities, Sirona care & health, Primary Care Networks, hospital trusts, community pharmacies, and voluntary community and social enterprise organisations, alongside faith and community leaders, and individuals from across our health system. “Taking a multi-disciplined, cross-system approach and working with communities as equal partners at a grass root level has been transformative in building trust and beginning to overcome some of the deeply held, legitimate concerns held by Minority Ethnic communities”, said Clare Cook, Maximising Access Manager. “We have delivered Covid vaccinations in inclusive community settings including workplaces, such as Amazon, Primark, IKEAs and abattoirs as well as job centres, mosques, temples, churches and from a backpack, roving the streets of Inner Bristol City. We continue to deliver first doses at every outreach clinic.”

Carol Slater, Head of Service, Public Health at Bristol City Council, added: “We realised that we had adapted the NHS System to community structures that already work, rather than imposing rigid ways of working onto communities. The approach was transformative and became our model for community vaccination. Our system partners have been essential, and we used and built on their expertise. An example is the strong partnership with Bristol City Council’s Community Development Teams, who have worked with community leaders on inequalities for years, giving us a good foundation from which to work when the pandemic hit.”

Announcing the win, the HSJ Award judges said: “…this was a simple but effective, inspirational project. The team highlighted embedded health inequalities and brought them to the surface so that these could be addressed by the rest of the NHS – a real system approach. The stories shared were great examples that could be easily shared elsewhere and were very impactful for the communities served.”