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Former Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Dr Peter Carter has received a Covid-19 vaccine and is now gearing up to vaccinate others in the coming weeks.
Dr Carter, who won the coveted CNO lifetime achievement award at the 2020 Nursing Times Awards, has signed up to be a vaccinator at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, which is part of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust.
Before now, he had found it “very frustrating” that despite wanting to help, there had not been a “ready way in” for him to support the response to the pandemic, said Dr Carter.
But now that he has been vaccinated, he has the opportunity to make a contribution.
He told Nursing Times that he felt there was a “responsibility” on health staff who were able to, to volunteer to support the vaccination programme.
This was because “it is a national emergency and there is a lot of incredibly talented people, not just nurses, but allied health professionals and others, who could do this competently and we’re going to need them”, he said.
“I am an enthusiast and an optimist, and I think we will get through this and I am looking forward to making my contribution,” added Dr Carter, a mental health and a general nurse by background.
“I don’t want to inflate my sense of impact, I just have the view if you could get thousands of people who’ve had long careers in the health service it could make a real difference.”
Dr Carter, who has held a range of roles from charge nurse to NHS trust chief executive over his career spanning more than 50 years, received his injection last Monday.
“I am an enthusiast and an optimist, and I think we will get through this and I am looking forward to making my contribution”
He will be ready to start vaccinating in three weeks once the vaccine has taken effect and he has completed a supernumerary shift.
As part of his training to be vaccinator, Dr Carter has had to complete 22 online modules, including on anaphylactic shocks, vaccine storage and basic life support, among other topics.
“I will sign up for whenever they want me, early mornings, late nights – I’ll just fit it in wherever they have got some slots,” he noted.
During the Covid-19 emergency, nurses and colleagues “have really gone over and above what anybody could have reasonably anticipated or expected”, said Dr Carter, adding this was now “about doing my bit” to help.
On having his jab, he praised the “enthusiasm” and “real sense of camaraderie” that the staff had.
“It was heartening to see,” said Dr Carter.
“I mean, they looked tired, but they were up for it, no question about it.”
In his opinion, he felt that it was a “mistake” that health workers were not top of the priority list for Covid-19 vaccinations, warning that “if you don’t have the workforce, you might end up having even more deaths or more difficulties”.
Dr Carter spoke to Nursing Times on the same day that the government published a new Covid-19 vaccine delivery plan, setting a target to offer jabs to all adults in England by the autumn.