Flu jabs delivered by pharmacists will ‘be at the expense of GP practices’ because they are unlikely to attract hard-to-reach patients, the GPC believes.
GP leaders also warned that offering patients the chance to receive jabs in pharmacies meant it would be complete ‘guesswork’ for practices planning flu clinics this year.
Pharmacies across England have been commissioned to lead a national campaign to offer seasonal flu vaccination to all eligible patients aged 18 and over.
GP flu vaccination
Pharmacies will be paid £7.64 per administered dose of the vaccine – the same fee GP practices receive. But pharmacies will receive an additional fee of £1.50 per vaccination for training and disposal costs.
GPC prescribing subcommittee lead Dr Andrew Green told GPonline: ‘It is clearly iniquitous that the same fee is payable to pharmacists and GPs, but pharmacists qualify for an extra payment to cover administration costs that are not otherwise reimbursed, whereas GPs do not.’
Practices should be reimbursed for the cost of inviting patients in by letter, and for administration costs incurred in updating medical records for patients vaccinated elsewhere, Dr Green said.
‘It is ironic that GPs may incur considerable expenses in chasing up patients who they believe are non-responders only to find that they have already been immunised by someone else,’ he said.
‘Patients attending pharmacies will be by their very nature those who are easiest to reach, with the disabled and housebound being left for GPs to contact.’
Dr Green said he hoped practices had ordered at least some of their vaccine supplies on a ‘sale or return’ basis. He said vaccine suppliers were likely to receive more returns from GP practices this year than usual.
RCGP immunisation lead Dr George Kassianos said that if practices were left facing financial losses because they were unable to use doses of flu vaccine ordered this year, they may be less willing to offer flu vaccination from 2016.
‘Once NHS England starts dispersing services traditionally carried out by GPs, they must expect weakening of general practice, which is trying so hard now to maintain services to patients,’ he said. ‘Is there any reason why pharmacists and various local clinics could not direct the patients at risk to their GP practices?’