Patients may be denied HPV vaccinations

GPs fear PCTs could prevent them from giving girls the HPV jab when clinically appropriate if they fall outside of the vaccination programme due to begin later this year.

From September, girls aged 12-13 years in England will receive the bivalent Cervarix HPV vaccine as part of a school vaccination programme. A catch-up campaign to cover girls up to the age of 18 will be rolled out the year after.

But GPs are worried that although the HPV vaccine is prescribable, PCTs may discourage this. Cornwall GP Dr Sarah Gray said: 'Under the national programme the purchase of the vaccine is going to happen centrally so there will not be a cost borne by the PCT.'

This could mean PCTs push GPs not to prescribe outside the programme because they would have to foot the bill, she said.

Bishopgate Medical Centre in County Durham has the highest rate of HPV jab prescribing in the country, after giving it to 300 girls aged 11-16 years.

Dr Stewart Findlay, a partner at the practice, said: 'Our PCT is working with us to understand why we gave out HPV vaccines in advance of a decision by the DoH on a school scheme.

'We felt it was unethical to withhold a vaccine that had obvious benefits when we knew that in other countries it was being given,' he explained.

County Durham PCT was unable to comment as GP went to press. A DoH spokesman said PCTs and local providers should discuss locally whether to vaccinate patients outside the national programme.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com.

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