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Boss of Falcon House care home in Little Hallingbury that was free from Covid-19 for 10 months points finger at NHS over vaccination delay after residents and staff test positive

Bosses at a care home near Bishop’s Stortford are “heartbroken and devastated” after elderly residents and staff tested positive for Covid-19.

After 10 months battling to keep the virus at bay, Gordon Griffiths, managing director of Falcon House in Little Hallingbury, feels they have been let down by the NHS.

He believed vaccines which could have prevented the outbreak were available at the local GP practice, Eden Surgeries in Hatfield Heath, but “no one was trained or available to administer it”.

At the start of the pandemic, the home locked down fast. Offices were converted into makeshift bedrooms and core staff moved in to safeguard guests. Now, the virus has taken hold, despite their best efforts. Eight of the 22 guests at Falcon House have tested positive along with five of the 36 members of staff, including the manager.

“Having battled for ten months to keep Falcon House Covid-free, I hope you appreciate my disappointment and anguish at residents and staff now infected. We are all heartbroken and devastated at this result,” said Mr Griffiths.

The care home has asked Essex NHS bosses: “How has this been allowed to happen? Why has there been a delay in administrating the vaccine despite its recent availability?”

As a result of the delay in administering the vaccine, those infected must now wait 28 days before they are able to have the first dose of either the Pfizer or Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs currently available.

Mr Griffiths said: “Why was the surgery not prepared to deal with this immediately when now we are in a position of having to retest residents before they can be vaccinated?”

After an invitation from Hertfordshire County Council, 26 staff members will be vaccinated at Stevenage’s newly-opened mass inoculation centre, but the trek across county lines will add further stress and strain for colleagues already at full stretch caring for residents.

“This is going to cause many challenges because of the distance that has to be travelled, social distancing and the fact that we are extremely short-staffed as a result of Covid infections,” said Mr Griffiths.

The Indie has asked NHS West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group for a comment.

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