KNIGHTON residents are mystified that they are being told to attend appointments to receive the coronavirus vaccine in Newtown – while people living in Presteigne are coming to Knighton in order to get their jabs.

Consternation and confusion reign in the east Radnorshire town this week, where frail and vulnerable people are concerned at having to travel the 16 miles to Newtown – which is their nearest mass vaccination centre – while people from neighbouring Presteigne make the near seven-mile journey to have their Covid-19 shot at Knighton Hospital.

There is added concern that some elderly residents will have to rely on people outside their family to take them to their appointment – thus increasing the risk of being infected.

One of those concerned is Nandita Dawson – who is deeply worried about her 91-year-old mother Nina, who suffers with dementia.

“Mum got the letter to attend her appointment in Newtown this Thursday (January 21) last week and a lot of my friends and people in Knighton got told the same, but then we started hearing that people from Presteigne were coming here to Knighton to get the vaccine,” said Nandita, who moved in with her mum at the start of the pandemic to keep an eye on her.

“We really want her to have the vaccine but going to Newtown and then people coming here to get it just seems really ridiculous.

“It seems like another one of these things during this nasty pandemic that’s just been really horribly organised.

“I really hope the health board will reconsider so that these poor people don’t have to travel such long distances – it really doesn’t seem appropriate.”

Nandita’s mum’s plight has been made that much more torturous because they’ve been unable to get through to the helpline number provided by Powys Teaching Health Board, despite she and her brother making countless calls.

It’s an issue that’s amassed almost 200 comments on the Knighton & District Memories Facebook group and is affecting multiple people in the town.

Andy Brick said: “I am a bit bewildered as I have just found out that Presteigne patients are to receive their Covid vaccinations at Knighton Hospital whilst my 90-year-old mother, who has been a Knightonian all her life, has been informed that she has to travel to Newtown to receive this injection.

“While we are happy for our mother to be receiving this vaccination can anybody please explain why a house-bound, fragile old person has to cover a 40 mile, 2+ hour round trip when she could receive it in her home town? I am sorry but does this make any sense?”

The health board has replied by explaining that as it directly manages Presteigne Medical Practice it is legally allowed to offer the vaccine sooner than independently-run GP surgeries.

“The most important thing is that we are able to offer people the Covid vaccine as quickly as possible,” said director of primary, community and mental health services, Jamie Marchant.

“For various logistical and legal reasons, vaccinations were first of all offered in our three Mass Vaccination Centres (MVCs) and will shortly also be offered by all GP practices across Powys. In order to protect as many people as possible, as soon as possible, both GPs and MVCs are needed and people will be invited to go to the vaccination location that can help protect them soonest.

“Presteigne Medical Practice is managed directly by the health board which gives it the legal capacity to deliver the vaccine to its patients sooner than other GP practices.

“During the flu vaccination progamme last year, due to the challenges of social distancing associated with Covid, the practice offered the flu vaccine from Knighton Hospital. This plan was mobilised again for the Covid vaccine as best option to be able to see the maximum number of people as quickly as possible.

“Although there is inevitably some travel required to attend an MVC, they have been set up to maximise the number of people we can vaccinate quickly in order to protect the people of Powys.

“If you can take up your invitation at our three mass vaccination centres then please do so to help protect yourself and the wider community.”