Commenting on the enhanced service specifications for the delivery of Covid-19 booster vaccinations in England, Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said:
“People know that their GP practice is the best place to get routine vaccinations and nothing shows this more than the annual flu campaign and most recently, the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. GPs want and expect to be involved in the COVID-19 booster programme this autumn; it gives patients confidence they can get their booster via their local surgery – especially if this can be done at the same time as flu jabs. Doctors and their teams should be given support and flexibility to take part in a way that works best for their patients.
“So it’s incredibly frustrating to see NHS England once again disregard the voice of hardworking GPs, ignoring our calls - specifically by not doing more to enable all practices to give vaccinations from within their own premises if that’s what they wish to do. If they were able to do so, it could limit the impact of the booster campaign on other important GP services. It would also mean GPs and their teams could offer opportunistic vaccinations to patients attending with other illnesses – a strategy that we know increases uptake for flu jabs.
“Elsewhere in the UK we have seen GPs giving COVID-19 vaccinations from within their surgery buildings, so there is no good reason for it not to happen in England. And while practices should be able to work together in the campaign, this should not be mandated.
“Practices are buckling under intense workload pressure, with this looking set to increase in the coming months. Yet NHS England once again refuses to give GPs the flexibility to lead in a way that works best for their communities. Instead it is continuing the ‘command and control’ approach seen throughout the pandemic, and today’s communications will do nothing to regain confidence among the profession.
“GPs know that vaccination will continue to be the key to moving out of the pandemic and want to make sure their patients are protected against what is still a deadly disease, but NHS England is making this far more difficult than it needs to be.”
Notes to editors
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.