Local swine flu deals struck as UK talks falter

GPs vaccinate a third of at-risk patients and 86,000 children aged under five years old in England.

Swine flu jabs: 36 per cent of priority patients have been vaccinated
Swine flu jabs: 36 per cent of priority patients have been vaccinated

GPs have managed to agree local deals to enable swine flu vaccination of under-fives to begin in all PCTs in England, after the failure of a UK-wide deal.

The GPC and NHS Employers revealed last month they had failed to reach a UK-wide pay deal for this part of the swine flu vaccination programme, leaving individual GPs and LMCs to negotiate funding.

Ian Dalton, director of flu resilience for England, said last week that vaccination of this group was underway in every PCT. 'There's a whole range of agreements,' he said. 'There are some agreements signed at a regional level, some with individual LMCs and some with individual GPs and I think that's OK.'

Agreements are also now in place with all local health boards in Wales and vaccinations will be starting in all areas of Scotland and Northern Ireland this month.

Speaking at a media briefing last week, England's CMO Sir Liam Donaldson said the DoH was pleased with the 'very good start' made on vaccinating healthy children. As of last week, 86,000 children in this group had been vaccinated. This represents 3.3 per cent of those in the group.

Around 36 per cent of patients in England in the initial priority groups have now been vaccinated against swine flu as well as 19 per cent of pregnant women. In Scotland, 46 per cent of at-risk patients and 45 per cent of pregnant women have been vaccinated.

Mr Dalton added that the DoH was beginning to look at when to scrap the National Pandemic Flu Service phone line.

Talks had begun between the DoH, the RCGP and the BMA about the issue, he said. If shut down, the service can be restarted within seven days.

Swine and seasonal flu cases have now fallen below the levels normally seen for seasonal flu.

Consultations for flu-like illness in England have decreased to 11.2 per 100,000 people/per week, below the English 'baseline' threshold.

Last month, the GPC announced that it had ceased work on a deal for how GPs would be paid if QOF were suspended.

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