RCGP urges GPs to collaborate with pharmacies on flu jabs this year

The RCGP and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society have called on GP practices and community pharmacists to 'take a collaborative approach' to delivering this year's flu vaccination programme.

(Photo: Kmatta/Getty Images)
(Photo: Kmatta/Getty Images)

A joint statement from the organisations, which sets out how practices and pharmacies can work together, said that 'a well-coordinated, collaborative approach to flu vaccination' was crucial this year to ensure high uptake of flu vaccinations.

It said that this was 'critical to keep people well and negate excessive pressure and strain on NHS services' while COVID-19 is in circulation.

The statement said that a joint approach should 'include mechanisms to ensure any possible competition between health care providers does not impact negatively on GP or pharmacy practice or lead to unnecessary tensions between the professions.'

The RCGP and RPS set out seven recommendations outlining how practices and pharmacies could work together.

Collaborative approach

They said that LMCs and local pharmaceutical committees should plan vaccinations in their areas together and identify which aspects of the programme could be 'more effectively delivered in one setting or another' and agree 'coordinated messaging'.

Practices and pharmacies should be supported by local commissioners to look at 'innovative and inclusive' ways of delivering flu jabs, particularly for hard to reach and vulnerable groups, the guidance said.

Meanwhile, nationally the NHS needed to ensure that IT systems enabled data to be shared between GP practices and pharmacists in a way that did not increase workload for healthcare staff or lead to a duplication of effort.

The RCGP and RPS also called on the government to work with NHS bodies and local providers to ensure there was 'adequate vaccine supply to deliver an expanded flu programme'.

The government has said that this year's flu vaccination campaign will be the 'biggest ever'. Practices and pharmacies are already vaccinating over-65s and an expanded group of eligible patients who are under 65, which this year includes all care workers and household members of anyone on the shielded patient list.

Expanded flu campaign

The government has said it plans to roll the programme out to everyone over the age of 50 later this year, which could mean half of the population will be eligible for flu jabs. The 2020/21 flu DES revealed that this is unlikely to happen until November and December after the exisiting eligble patients have been covered.

The DHSC has said it has secured central supplies of vaccine stock for the expanded campaign and practices will also receive detail on how to access this later this year.

RCGP joint honorary secretary Dr Jonathan Leach said: 'Seasonal flu can be a serious illness, which poses a real risk to people’s health. As we continue to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, its vital that we protect as many people as possible from the flu, particularly those in at risk groups, such as older people, pregnant women and patients with long-term conditions and learning difficulties, and reduce the pressures on the health system.

'General practice and community pharmacy sit at the heart of communities. By working together across primary care, we can ensure that vulnerable individuals are able to access the protection which the flu vaccine affords.'

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