Oxford Health’s governor Maddy Radburn has been busy throughout the coronavirus pandemic, not only as a Trust governor but also volunteering to help her community in Witney.
And she is a secretary of the Patient Participation Group for Windrush Medical Practice, producing newsletters and recruiting volunteers for vaccine trials.
Right now, she is helping with the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations to priority patients at the Windrush practice.
“I’ve got NHS written right through my veins,” she laughs.
Maddy understands that the vaccine is the key to a “new normal” future. It was clear that others feel the same.
On the first day of the vaccination roll-out for patients in the Witney area, there were at least 10 medics to administer the vaccine and around 900 patients arrived on time and with a positive attitude.
Maddy, 75, says:
“Will I have the jab when my turn comes? Yes, definitely!”
“It isn’t just about me; it’s about people with whom I have close contact. We are told that we can have the virus but not know we have it. So, I can potentially pass it on unknowingly to my family, friends and neighbours.”
We do not yet know whether the vaccine will stop you from catching and passing on the virus. So, it is still important to follow the guidance to protect those around you:
• practice social distancing
• wear a face mask
• wash your hands carefully and frequently
• follow the current guidance.
Maddy notes: “We are all part of a larger community; we all need to help each other. That’s what we are here for.”
Importantly, the vaccine has been shown to reduce the chance of you suffering from COVID-19 disease and getting seriously ill. As more and more people are immunised, the ‘viral load’ in the community will reduce and we will see the pressures ease on health care and the restrictions on everyday life.
Faith in MHRA
Maddy spent 35 years of her working life at the NHS, and this experience gives her great reassurance that the vaccines are safe and effective.
“I have a huge faith in the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). I have a background in medical devices and I know the highly stringent regulations they have in place to ensure that we are treated safely. We have some of the brightest scientists in the world and the best facilities. We are in the absolutely best place to start this off and get this right. If the MHRA says go – I go!” she says.
Asked how she thinks the vaccine is going to change her everyday life, Maddy needn’t think a second.
“I will be able to hug my grandchildren again. I will be able to be with them again, and talk to them, face to face, not Zoom to Zoom. This technology is marvellous, but you miss so much of the little things, all the nuances.”
Maddy clarifies her grandchildren are not little:
“One is 24 and six foot one, the other 21 and six foot six and one is 12 and five feet tall (thank goodness!). But I really want to be with them. And I want to hug my daughter and son. I haven’t hugged them since February. That’s a long time that I have not been able to show them how much they mean to me.”
Another aspect is her many voluntary roles where all contact has been over the phone or on a laptop screen – just like our interview.
“I have done dozens of these meetings, and what you miss again is the feeling of how people are and what they think. Around the table you can just take a quick look around and see whether that chap over there agrees with you,” Maddy laughs.
“On Teams (video conferencing) you get the facts, but you don’t get the feeling.”
That said, Maddy’s many voluntary roles have given her a good idea of how people in the community are feeling. Over the summer she was working with local scouts, taking phone calls from people who needed prescriptions delivered.
“It was a real eye-opener,” she says. “Sometimes we would talk for 45 minutes just because I knew that on that day I’d be the only person they’d talk to. And this is going on everywhere.
“But Covid has also brought out the best in people. In our community people have really come together to help each other. I would say to anybody who is feeling isolated: see what you can give. Someone somewhere needs a phone call from you, someone needs a letter from you.
“Currently we are waiting for news of the next vaccination day – and the good news is that we currently have well over 50 volunteers lined up to help organise the queues. It’s a very happy job and very positive; hopefully it will help many people to feel happier and more positive too.”