GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman has written to the chairman of the Medical Schools Council, Professor Tony Weetman, pointing out that medical schools, not GPs, should ensure appropriate provision of hepatitis B vaccine to all enrolled medical students.
‘We would be grateful if all UK medical schools could be reminded of their obligations in providing occupational health services to their students,’ he told Professor Weetman.
‘GPs get many requests for hepatitis B immunisation from healthcare students prior to, or on entering, a course,’ Dr Buckman wrote. ‘It is our view that it is the legal responsibility of medical schools to ensure this vaccine is available as part of their occupational health duties to students.’
Dr Buckman added: ‘We are concerned that in some instances these educational needs would not be met if the hepatitis B vaccine was administered by individual GPs and not as a systematic immunisation programme.’
He pointed out that hepatitis B immunisation remained outside of normal GP care for a number of reasons.
‘Having given the vaccine, whoever does so has to arrange for an antibody assay, deal with non-responders and plan repeat vaccination, as well as educating the future student about needlestick injuries,’ he said.
The Medical Schools Council said it would not be responding publicly to Dr Buckman's letter, but had made deans of medical schools aware of the issue.