General practitioner England

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Doubts over pharmacists' flu-jab role

The BMA has questioned the clinical benefits of sharing responsibility for the seasonal flu vaccination of eligible adults with community pharmacists at such a late stage before vaccinations are due to begin.

Community pharmacists will be commissioned alongside GPs to provide the vaccination programme to capture ‘hard to reach’ eligible adults aged 18 and over in England.

But GP leaders say pharmacists are already providing these services in some areas under local schemes and that the benefits are as yet unproven.

BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘There is little real evidence that it increases uptake among this category of patients, so it is questionable whether this new enhanced service will have increased clinical benefits to the public.’

Dr Nagpaul said now that the service was being introduced nationally, the Government must put in place proper protocols that allow accurate records to be shared between pharmacists and GPs, as existing NHS bureaucracy was not ‘flexible enough to allow this to happen speedily’.

He added: ‘Failures in data collection can make it more difficult for flu immunisation targets to be met and for GP practices to identify which patients need to be immunised. 

'We must also ensure that practices which have already placed flu vaccine orders are not penalised financially by the introduction of this service.’

Pharmacists will receive £7.64 per administered dose, plus reimbursement of the vaccine costs, and an extra £1.50 will be paid per vaccination under the changes agreed to community pharmacists’ contracts by NHS England, NHS Employers and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

The funding streams for pharmacy and general practice are not directly comparable as there are different elements contained within the respective contracts.

However, GPC will examine the detail of the schemes to check for any inequities in terms of the workload of GPs and pharmacists carrying out the vaccination programme. 

Read the BMA vaccination and immunisation guidance

 

 

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