GPC warning over 'questionable' deal for pharmacies to deliver all NHS flu jabs

Plans for community pharmacists to provide all eligible adults with their yearly flu vaccine have 'questionable' clinical benefits and could leave practices facing losses over orders placed for doses of the jab, the GPC has warned.

Flu jab: GPC questions switch to pharmacy-led campaign (Photo: Jim Varney)
Flu jab: GPC questions switch to pharmacy-led campaign (Photo: Jim Varney)

Changes to the 2015/16 Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF), set to be ‘implemented shortly’, will see a national seasonal influenza vaccination service launched across community pharmacies.

Under a new contract, pharmacists will be directly commissioned to provide seasonal flu vaccines to all eligible patients aged 18 and over, as defined in the annual flu letter.

The GPC has argued that any clinical benefits of the scheme are ‘questionable’ and could cause complications for practices preordering the vaccine ahead of the flu season, given uncertainties around numbers of patients seeking the vaccine in pharmacies.

A statement from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and NHS Employers said the service would build on the success of similar local schemes, which had shown ‘high levels of patient satisfaction’ and success at capturing ‘hard to reach’ patients.

Pressure on GPs

But GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said local schemes had provided ‘little real evidence’ that offering the vaccine in pharmacies was associated with an increase in uptake. Any clinical benefits to opening up the scheme were therefore ‘questionable’, he warned.

‘Since this is now being introduced, the government does need to put in place proper protocols that allow accurate records to be shared between pharmacists and GPs as at the moment the NHS bureaucracy is not flexible enough to allow this to happen speedily,’ he said.

‘Failures in data collection can make it more difficult for flu immunisation targets to be met and for GP practices to identify which patients need to be immunised. We also must ensure that practices which have already placed flu vaccine orders are not penalised financially by the introduction of this service.’

Community pharmacy contractors will receive remuneration of £7.64 per administered dose of the vaccine, plus reimbursement of the vaccine costs and an additional fee of £1.50 paid per vaccination to account for training and disposal costs.

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