PCN COVID-19 vaccination sites no longer need a GP present at all times

COVID-19 vaccination sites run by primary care networks (PCNs) are no longer required to have a GP on site when vaccines are being administered, NHS England has said.

(Photo: Andrew Aitchison/Getty Images)
(Photo: Andrew Aitchison/Getty Images)

An updated operating procedure for local vaccination sites, published on 8 March, said that PCN sites should now 'determine the most appropriate clinical supervision required, based on local circumstances'.

Under previous advice, which was issued to PCNs when they first began setting up the sites in December last year, networks were told there was a 'requirement' for a GP to be available on site for each vaccination session.

However the new operating procedure says: 'If other healthcare professionals have the relevant skills and are working under a PGD, the presence of GPs is not an essential legal requirement.'

The document highlights that GP practices remain responsible for delivery of all of the conditions of the vaccination programme enhanced service, even if a GP is not on site. It adds that many sites have 'found that the presence of a GP is helpful in a “clinical director” type capacity to assist with consent and complex patients'.

Staffing levels

The updated guidance also now includes an operating model for providing temporary vaccination clinics, for example in local community venues or places of worship. The guidance says that PCNs will have to register these additional venues with the CQC.

New advice on staffing for vaccination sites highlights that networks will need to ensure that there is 'flexibility' in staff levels to deal with variation in vaccine supply from week to week. PCNs will need to have teams in place that can 'be stood down in quieter periods and stood back up when required', the guidance adds.

NHS England has said that vaccine supplies are expected to hit record levels next week, with available stock from 15 March expected to be double what has been delivered in recent weeks

A letter sent to regional health service leaders last week made clear that the higher levels of supply are expected to be sustained for 'several weeks'. Local vaccination sites are expecting to focus on second doses of jabs in the coming weeks as the campaign shifts to its next phase.

Social distancing and site security

There are also a number of other additions to the new operating procedure. It now makes clear that people should not be denied a vaccination if they do not have an NHS number or are not registered with a practice. It also includes new advice on social distancing measures, which is based on the real life experiences of local vaccination sites over the past few months.

Meanwhile, new sections on vaccine security and site security have been added. PCNs have been told that all staff and volunteers should be aware of keeping vaccines, vials and packaging secure at all time to avoid 'criminal reuse', for example stolen vials being re-filled and sold on the black market.

There is also new advice on additional issues vaccination sites may want to consider when vaccinating people with severe mental illness, dementia, a learning disability or autism, as well as information on reasonable adjustments sites can make for these groups.

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