Scottish practices have warned that they may have to decline the Men B DES contract, as it mandates 'unnecessary and time-consuming' requirements for practices to provide babies with paracetamol, which 'disempower patients and clinicians' by setting what should be simple advice into 'rigid protocol'.
The meningococcal group B (Men B) vaccine will be integrated into the current childhood vaccination programme from 1 September this year.
Public Health England (PHE) has recommended that GPs in England advise parents on giving their baby three doses of paracetamol following the Men B jab, as it has been shown to cut risk of them developing a fever.
But wording for the Scottish Men B DES mandates that the first dose of paracetamol must be provided ‘at the same time as the vaccinations’ by a healthcare professional, and that a prescription must be written up for the following two doses.
The strict wording will have ‘massive implications’ on practice workload, Fife GP Dr Glyn McCrickard warned, and forcing what could easily be done by parents to be carried out in-practice was ‘unnecessary and time-consuming’.
He told GPonline that his practice and many others may have to decline the DES contract as it currently stands, as the logistics of organising nurses to administer the paracetamol and organising prescriptions ‘is just not worth the recompense’.
This would mean alternative arrangements must be made for patients to receive the jab, which ‘would be a great shame’, he added.
In England, Public Health England (PHE) has released guidance advising parents to bring their own paracetamol or purchase some ‘from your local pharmacy or supermarket on your way home’ from receiving the jab.
Dr McCrickard said the Scottish contract should be amended to be more in-line with that seen in England.
He added: ‘In no way are we disputing the need for paracetamol to be given. We think Men B vaccination is an excellent idea. However, we also feel this is a thin end of a wedge regarding micromanagement of medicines administration, especially in a time of soaring GP workload and NHS austerity.’
Scottish Men B DES wording
14. Infants will require three doses of paracetamol following routine vaccinations at 2 and 4 months. The small number of infants getting the Men B vaccine as part of the one-off catch-up this year will also need three doses of paracetamol following routine vaccinations at 3 and 4 months:
- The first dose of paracetamol should be given by the GP practice at the same time as the vaccinations
- A prescription should be written for the subsequent two doses of paracetamol.