The BMA has requested an urgent meeting with the Government after news that NHS England is considering delaying the start of the Covid and Flu vaccination programmes this autumn.
The vaccination programmes, which are essential to protecting vulnerable patients, usually start in September to make sure there is as much time as possible to vaccinate vulnerable patients before the winter months begin. Practices across the country spend months preparing flu clinics and booking appointments.
Without any real clarity, NHS England is now suggesting that the programme will be delayed until October, causing widespread confusion among the profession and potentially putting some patients at unnecessary risk.
Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, chair of GPC England at the BMA, said: “I’ve today requested an urgent meeting with the Minister responsible for vaccines to discuss NHS England’s potential delay of this year’s Covid and Flu vaccination programme.
“Making this kind of change, and without any consultation with the profession, will have a direct knock-on effect for patients and wider public health. Practices plan at least six months in advance for the flu vaccination season, and many will have already got everything in place for this to work: clinics will have been arranged and appointments booked. Pushing this back a month will cause serious disruption ahead of what will no doubt be another difficult winter.”
In the letter to Maria Caulfield MP1, Dr Bramall-Stainer also reiterates the need for NHS England to reconsider its recent decision to significantly reduce the fee that GPs are paid to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine – something the BMA believes also threatens the safety of patients and undervalues general practice.
She said: “Making substantial cuts to the funding of the Covid-19 vaccine programme is an incredibly short-sighted decision by NHS England and will make it very difficult for practices to deliver the vaccine. General practice must be properly resourced to protect patients. Not doing this risks increasing the likelihood of Covid hospitalisations and making an already overwhelming waiting list even longer.”
Notes to editors
- Please find the full letter here.
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.