DH vaccine overhaul to drive up GP workload

UK practices will struggle to cope with a DH overhaul of immunisations and three new vaccination schemes without funding guarantees and clear publicity, GPs have warned.

JCVI changes to vaccination programmes include giving DTaP/IPV/Hib at six weeks in some cases (Photograph: Life in View/SPL)
JCVI changes to vaccination programmes include giving DTaP/IPV/Hib at six weeks in some cases (Photograph: Life in View/SPL)

DH advisers at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have set out changes to the vaccinations GPs provide to children, adolescents and the elderly (see box). These include giving DTaP/IPV/Hib at six weeks in some cases, meningococcal C boosters for adolescents and shingles jabs for elderly patients.

 JCVI DECISIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said decisions still needed to be made over how any extra schemes would work. ‘If practices are expected to do extra work, they need to be remunerated for it,’ he said. ‘Practices can plan to employ additional staff, but they need guarantees to plan ahead.’ The roll-out of new vaccines must also be supported by publicity campaigns for the public and parents, he added.

Northumberland LMC secretary Dr Jane Lothian said there needed to be ‘a lot of thought given to adequate funding for the infrastructure to support additional schemes’. She said it would be important to optimise the timing of any campaign, so patients did not have to be recalled repeatedly. The DH must consider the impact of changes on practice workload, to avoid ‘breaking the system’, she added.

The JCVI has said the way GPs organise jab clinics may need to be overhauled. It said changes were needed to stem falling immunity against pertussis and other diseases.

RCGP immunisation spokesman Dr George Kassianos welcomed the JCVI proposal that babies have their first DTaP/IPV/Hib early if the vaccine might otherwise be delayed beyond eight weeks. ‘Earlier jabs at six or seven weeks of age if a baby is due to be taken away on a family holiday make sense,’ he said. But he said a JCVI plan to clear waiting lists ‘makes no sense to GPs and their teams battling to get parents in to have children vaccinated’.

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