GPs are the right professionals to lead Covid-19 vaccine campaign, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Thursday 5 November 2020

GPs will lead the upcoming Covid-19 vaccination campaign in England, building on practices’ proven track record of delivering widespread immunisation programmes to patients in their communities.

This follows an agreement1 between the BMA’s England GP committee and NHS England and NHS Improvement that practices will be ready for the beginning of December – with the rollout of the campaign dependent on when vaccines are approved and delivered to surgeries.

Practices will work together in their local area, initially with vaccinations taking place at one site – most likely a nominated practice.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said:

“An effective vaccine is a vital tool in defeating the pandemic and preventing further rises in infection levels, and people becoming seriously ill and tragically, in many cases, dying.

“GPs and their teams are uniquely placed to ensure that their communities are properly protected from this deadly virus. And with their proven track record in delivering widespread vaccination campaigns, such as this year’s flu programme, they are absolutely the right people to be leading this Covid vaccination drive.

“But we are under no illusion that this will be an easy task. Not only are these very complex vaccines – for example they need special storage conditions – but a campaign of this scale will be a huge undertaking for practices already struggling to cope with the impact of the pandemic, as well as supporting the large number of patients with other healthcare concerns.

“GPs and their teams want to protect as many of their patients as quickly as possible, doing so safely and focusing on those most in need first. We can only do this with the help and support of local partners, and if everyone is patient and understanding as practices embark on this unprecedented campaign. There must also be clear communication from the Government and NHS England, clarifying what patients can expect and when.

“Practices can choose to take part in the programme and NHS England will need to work with us to ensure that suitable arrangements will be made for all eligible patients to be vaccinated and that we have the flexibility necessary to meet local needs.

“The campaign is likely to lead to changes in the way practices operate as they prioritise this vital work for our nation – but to be clear, all GP surgeries are open, as they have been throughout this pandemic. Patients should continue to contact their practice if they have a health concern either on the telephone or online, and whenever it is necessary arrangements for a face-to-face appointment will be made. GPs are here for you and working together we will get through this dreadful pandemic.”

Ends

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association 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.

  1. Full details of the programme will be available shortly.