Final detail of GP-led COVID-19 vaccination plan revealed

NHS officials have confirmed final details of the COVID-19 vaccination programme that will see a single GP practice in most of England's primary care network (PCN) areas chosen to administer jabs from December.

COVID-19 vaccination programme (Photo: PM Images/Getty Images)
COVID-19 vaccination programme (Photo: PM Images/Getty Images)

The final guidance confirms draft details of the plans revealed last week by GPonline, which made clear that practices will receive a £12.58 item of service payment for each jab administered. Two doses of the vaccine are required - meaning practices will receive £25.16 in total per patient vaccinated.

The final plans also confirm that most of England's 1,250 PCNs will be expected to designate a single practice to administer vaccines in their area - although exceptions could be made for networks covering patient populations of more than 100,000.

Deadlines have shifted back slightly from the draft version revealed last week - with PCNs now expected to nominate a designated practice by 17 November, CCGs to assess and make recommendations to NHS England regional teams by 19 November, and NHS England to confirm approval of vaccination sites on 23 November.

COVID-19 vaccine deal

Documents published by NHS England suggest a full service specification for the COVID-19 vaccination enhanced service deal will be published in 'late November'.

The release of the final documents setting out the GP-led COVID-19 vaccination plan come after a early findings from a phase 3 trial of a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech found 'a vaccine efficacy rate above 90%'.

Deputy CMO Professor Jonathan Van Tam said on 9 November that he was 'hopeful' the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine could be administered to patients before Christmas - although only 50m doses of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine are expected to be available worldwide before the end of 2020.

What will the vaccination programme involve?

Government officials have said all but one of the leading vaccine candidates in development require two doses per patient, with a gap of 21 to 28 days between doses.

Patients will need to be observed for 15 minutes after the vaccination is administered - and have been advised to 'plan on the assumption there needs to be at least seven days between the flu vaccination and COVID-19 vaccinations'.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has suggested that care home residents and staff, followed by healthcare staff and patients aged over 80 could be first in line for a COVID-19 jab.

Further eligible patients will be offered vaccination as more doses become available, with groups covered expected to be similar to those offered the flu jab. Practices will be able to vaccinate their own staff also, with the same item of service fee applying.

Practices will be expected to offer vaccinations at home where eligible patients are physically unable to attend the local vaccination site.

A data extraction from GP IT systems will support a national call and recall service for patients eligible for vaccination - with practices free to run their own call and recall in parallel.

How will a designated practice be chosen?

Practices designated to provide vaccines in their local area will need to satisfy a list of criteria set out by NHS England.

They will need to have fridge space at 2-8 degrees centigrade available by 1 December, and 'capacity to administer minimum of 975 doses per week or greater in accordance with minimum ordering requirements for specific vaccines'.

They will be expected to deliver vaccines from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, including on bank holidays if required.

Designated practices will be required to ensure vaccine wastage does not exceed 5% and to comply with a range of safety and reporting protocols.

How will payment work?

Practices will be able to claim £25.16 per patient once both doses have been administered, but will be able to claim for a single dose in exceptional circumstances that mean a second dose cannot be completed.

Further local funding can be agreed locally to cover costs of hiring venues, additional storage such as fridges or communication costs.

NHS England has also approved a £150m fund to boost GP capacity during the second wave of the pandemic, which sits outside the vaccination programme.

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