GP phone lines 'jammed' as flu jab expansion comes without warning

Practices have reported phone lines being 'jammed' with a deluge of calls from patients after the government announced the expansion of flu jabs to patients aged 50-64 from next month without warning GPs.

GPs inundated with calls (Photo: Chainarong Prasertthai/Getty Images)
GPs inundated with calls (Photo: Chainarong Prasertthai/Getty Images)

Some GPs arrived at work on Friday morning unaware that the announcement - which extends NHS flu vaccination to around 11.5m patients aged 50 to 64 years old - had been made public in the early hours.

Others found out via media outlets on Friday morning - leaving practices fielding calls from patients keen to book a flu jab when they had little if any information about the plans.

Wessex LMCs chief executive Dr Nigel Watson told GPonline: 'It has caused a problem. Practices are reporting their phone lines being jammed this morning.

Flu vaccination

'We have had practices saying as soon as they opened their phone lines this morning, they had people calling in to book flu vaccinations. And practices didn’t even know. Some found out via the news this morning. Some will have turned up at surgery unaware.'

Practices should have been warned, the New Forest GP said - perhaps with a letter yesterday ahead of an embargoed message to the media.

GPs took to social media to raise concerns over the lack of warning.

NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani said on Twitter that a message went out to GP practices early on Friday morning - but GPs pointed out it had arrived hours after they had heard the announcement 'on national TV'.

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