Ford And NHS ‘Vaccine Van’ Delivers COVID-19 Protection To Low-Uptake Communities

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  • Bespoke Ford Transit COVID-19 vaccination vehicle set to bring mobile clinics to communities who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and those who might face barriers to accessing traditional healthcare services.
  • Pilot scheme by Ford, the NHS in Essex and community leaders tackles access barriers where individuals have been or felt unable to attend a clinic.
  • Ethnically diverse communities, those experiencing homelessness, travelling communities, vulnerable patients and unregistered patients among those to be supported by the initiative.
  • Fully kitted out vehicle is designed to bespoke NHS specifications for safe transportation and administration of the vaccine.

The NHS in Essex has teamed up with Ford and local community health leaders to roll out a vital initiative across Mid and South Essex, delivering COVID-19 vaccines to communities who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and those who might face barriers to accessing traditional healthcare services.

Despite the UK’s successful vaccine rollout, COVID-19 vaccine uptake is lower among some communities facing access challenges. Such communities include those experiencing homelessness, ethnically diverse communities, travelling communities and unregistered patients.

To help address this, a specially converted Ford Transit van will begin to travel across Essex from next month, as GP practices work together with local community leaders to safely deliver and administer vaccines in areas of low uptake.

The Ford Transit will be a hub for dedicated vaccine clinics in the grounds of churches, mosques and other community venues. The NHS and partners across the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership will liaise with community leaders and groups to fill pre-booked appointments to rally and vaccinate as many people from the local communities as possible.

Take-up of the vaccine has been exceptionally strong; 19 out of 20 people aged 50 and over have already chosen to take up the offer, which remains available. Additionally, the number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds coming forward has more than tripled over the last two months. The vaccine van initiative aims to help continue NHS efforts to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to as many people as possible.

The bespoke vehicle is based on a Ford Transit, the UK’s most popular commercial vehicle for 56 years, and has been converted by West Yorkshire-based specialist vehicle builders, Venari Group. The Transit’s specification includes medical grade refrigeration with WIFI monitoring capability, vaccine transport coolers, a collapsible chair for administering vaccines as well as an integrated tablet for accessing and updating health and vaccination records.

Mandy Dean, Director of Commercial Vehicles at Ford of Britain said: “Over the coming weeks, this Ford Transit will make some incredibly important journeys as a vaccination van. Working with the NHS and community leaders to deliver this brilliant scheme and bolster the exemplary vaccine rollout, has been a privilege. Full credit is due to our conversion partners at Venari Group, who continue to work with us to make thousands of life-saving vehicles for the emergency services every year.”

Dr Smitesh Patel, Clinical Director at Benfleet Primary Care Network, Essex commented: “Our goal of giving everyone an equal opportunity to receive this essential vaccine is now in closer reach, owing to the additional support from our valued network of community leaders, Ford and Venari Group.

“This added mobility has meant the gap will be bridged for so many facing a struggle to visit their local vaccination centre. With this support, we enter an important chapter of our vaccine rollout with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.”

Oliver North, CEO at Venari Group said; “The departure of the completed vaccination van from our factory on to British roads is something of a historic moment for us. We have worked closely with Ford and the NHS in Essex to create such an important vehicle, which is set to make a big impact in the community.”

The Ford and NHS Essex Vaccination Transit will take to the roads from early May. The programme will run as a pilot initially, with scope to increase the number of vehicles in the future and explore further outreach models in the future.

For more information, visit the Essex Covid Vaccine website.

Happiness Programme brings ‘joy’ to residents with dementia and learning difficulties

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Mid and South Essex Hospitals Charity has funded interactive light projectors for Essex care homes and community hospitals, using a grant received from NHS Charities Together.

Nurse Chloe with a patient at Brentwood Community Hospital

Three interactive magic tables have been purchased by the Mid and South Essex CCGs, using money awarded to Mid and South Essex Hospitals Charity by NHS Charities Together and Captain Sir Tom Moore’s fundraising. They are part of a pilot of 20 sensory tables that are going to be used in care homes and community settings across mid and south Essex.

The magic table 360s, project light on to a surface like a table, floor, ceiling or even someone’s bed. People can then use their hands, arms or feet to move through the light, which will then change and move images. They can also interact with a wide variety of music, pictures and games while using the projector. The projector is part of the Happiness Programme; a service combining this technology with training and support to help empower care teams to deliver best-in-class activities and personalised care.

The company behind the programme, Social Ability, loaned a number of their projectors to Brentwood Community Hospital during the pandemic, to help provide enrichment activities to residents who were unable to go out or meet with their families. The projectors were so successful that the CCGs who are part of the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership, have since decided to purchase 20 magic table 360s and pilot them across their care homes.

Sachin D. Jeeneea, Nursing Associate at Brentwood Community Hospital, which is run by NELFT, said:
"Lockdown has been stressful for those in our care as their normal routines have been disrupted, leaving them anxious and upset. Our staff are always trying to provide activities that help lift their spirits and enrich their day-to-day lives, therefore being able to use these magic tables has been fantastic. The reaction of our residents as they interact with the staff, has been wonderful. It really has been a joy to watch."

Social-Ability is a social venture with an ambition to make society happier. Their first goal is to spark laughter and happiness for everyone living with dementia, so they developed the Happiness Programme to tackle the challenges faced by those with dementia and learning difficulties.

Andrew Spiers, Sales Director for Social Ability, said:

"For anyone with dementia or learning difficulties, communication and interaction with their environment and other people is essential for their wellbeing, as it gives them dignity and improves their self-esteem. The Happiness Programme provides a whole-body approach to communication, using interactive projected images to provide a catalyst for conversation and interaction that can bring friends and family together. It also provides information about a person’s interactions, helping to improve and personalise the activities, as well as enables staff to demonstrate an individual’s progress."

Lucy Thomas-Clayton, director, Mid and South Essex Hospitals Charity said: “We are delighted to be able to support Mid and South Essex CCGs in providing the interactive magic tables. It is wonderful to see the grant money from NHS Charities Together making a difference in the community and we hope many patients can benefit from and enjoy this fantastic new service.

The roll out of the Happiness Programme across Essex is one of a number of projects currently being undertaken to support people going into hospital or living in care settings with dementia; other projects include interactive robotic therapy cat and dogs.

My Health Matters

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Right now, looking after ourselves is more important than ever

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‘My Health Matters’ is a new campaign that aims to bring together tools, tips and resources that can help people across mid and south Essex to take care of themselves and support their health and wellbeing.

Everyone’s health is unique to them, as are the things that will help improve their wellbeing. There is no right or wrong way, it is simply about finding what is best for you to help you take control of your health.

We hope to use real-life examples of people in local communities across mid and south Essex taking control of their health and wellbeing in different ways.

We’re interested in ways people are connecting with their local areas, or certain tools or resources they are utilising to support their wellbeing.

By doing this, we hope to inspire and empower many others to do the same.

Get involved and tell us how you are staying healthy by using #MyHealthMattersMSE on social.


The ‘My Health Matters’ digital booklet provides an overview of national and local tools and resources available to support people to live well. It can easily be downloaded and stored on computers and smartphones for quick access or alternatively printed if that’s preferred.

The guide provides information and ideas about what’s available to help people to look after themselves and those they care for. This includes:

  • Making the most out of digital apps and tools to easily access trusted information and advice from home
  • Keeping active for better health – with information on local and national resources that can help you to stay physically fit
  • Looking after your mental health – utilising local and national services such as talking therapies
  • Support in the local community – including treating minor health conditions and practical and emotional support from specialist professionals such as social prescribers
  • Local offers across mid and south Essex to help keep people well.

Please note, the booklet is not intended to be exhaustive, and if you think we may have missed information that may be useful, please get in touch at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We hope to provide more information about local resources and assets through local people stories. To find out more about this, please take a look at our ‘local people stories’ and ‘getting involved’ sections on this page.

If you need an alternative version of this leaflet (e.g. a translated or large print version), please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  pdf Download My Health Matters guide (750 KB)

Local people stories

Billy case study

We are raising awareness of local people living or working across mid and south Essex and what matters to them when it comes to their health and wellbeing.

Our first featured case study is of Rochford-based, Billy, who lives with a long-term health condition known as Fibromyalgia.

pdf Read his full case study here (394 KB)

Getting involved

We would like to raise awareness of local people across communities in mid and south Essex taking control of their health and wellbeing in different ways.

We’re interested in ways people are connecting with local areas, certain tools or resources to support their wellbeing.

By sharing people stories, we hope to inspire and empower others to do the same.

If you have a story to share please contact us by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with ‘My Health Matters campaign’ in the subject line or get involved by using the hashtag #MyHealthMattersMSE on social media.

You can also use this form by visiting: to submit a case study if you are interested in taking part and being a featured case study in future.

Getting in touch

If you have any questions about the campaign, opportunities to share or getting involved, please feel free to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Local NHS gains more control over resources for GP services

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From 1 April 2021, all five Clinical Commissioning Groups will take control of the planning, strategic direction, priority setting and decision making for GP services. This is a first step towards strengthening local decision making under plans to create an Integrated Care Systems (ICS) which will manage services on behalf of local people.

In line with both the national and local NHS strategies, GP services will play a key role in improving the health and wellbeing of the local population.
The COVID-19 vaccination programme has demonstrated how GP practices working together in “Primary Care Networks” (PCNs) can benefit their communities while continuing to offer a core service to their patients.

With greater control over local priorities, the new integrated care system will be able to accelerate plans for Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to act together in further improvements through collaborative working amongst front-line staff.

Dr Arv Guniyangodage, PCN Clinical Director for Brentwood welcoming these changes said “Ensuring local decisions can be taken about the provision of primary care services is vital for the effectiveness of services we can offer our population. The delegation of primary care empowers this local decision making. We will be able to make decisions that are informed by our understanding of our population, the feedback local people are providing and in the context of the strategic aims of our wider partners. This is a real opportunity for improving outcomes for those we serve.”

Anthony McKeever, Executive Lead Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership and Joint Accountable Officer for its five CCGs said:

“What matters is that local people have access to efficient and effective primary care when they need it. But family medicine is also about prevention - supporting people to stay healthy and independent wherever possible. Having more control over primary care commissioning will help accelerate our plans to improve the way health and care is delivered across mid and south Essex. People have told us they want better joined up services. Local Primary Care Networks will play a vital role in better integrated working and improving population health and wellbeing, so as to make local services more responsive and sustainable. PCNs will become a cornerstone around which local places can thrive and the key vehicle for delivering local services.”

The benefits of commissioning GP services locally include:

  • proactively working with individual practices to develop resilience and sustainability
  • having more control, flexibility and influence over how GP Services are developed
  • driving up quality of GP Services, and improve access to primary medical services
  • developing the foundations for a more sustainable and stable general practice
  • greater scope for improved system-wide financial management

Health services over Easter

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Know the best place to get medical help in mid and south Essex this Easter with our NHS service guides.

Easter NHS services graphics Twitter

Many services are closed on the bank holidays and those that are open may have different opening times. Our Easter guides sets out where and when you can get medical help over the Easter weekend.

There’s information on what pharmacies are open and when, details on extra GP and nurse appointments available over the weekend, and a reminder of what you can and can’t do due to COVID restrictions.

Click on the links below to download the guides and please feel free to share with friends and family:

pdf Easter weekend bank holiday services poster - Thurrock (376 KB)