GPs call for more help to deliver Covid-19 vaccination programme
GPs have said they will need support to deliver the Covid-19 vaccination programme as health bosses acknowledged some other family doctor services may need to be scaled back.
Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said existing pressures meant family doctors would need help from colleagues to manage the vaccination programme, which is set to be rolled out from December 1.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday it was right that GPs were at the heart of vaccination but added: “We can’t do everything with the current resources.
“The issue here is mostly about the staff.
“We can’t do the usual things that we do in general practice – looking after acutely ill patients, dealing with people who might have cancer, dealing with people who have long-term conditions, continuing to deliver immunisation, other immunisation programmes – at the same time as delivering the vaccine without having extra staff.”
Asked if this meant GPs would not be able to help patients without extra resources, Prof Marshall said: “Let me clarify, we’re saying that we have to continue to look after patients who have the health problems that I have described, that is absolutely essential.
“General practice can’t shut up shop, because we’re such an important part of the NHS.
“The question is, how do we get the staff in to allow us to continue to do those things.”
NHS England has told its 1,250 primary care networks to designate a single practice in their area capable of delivering vaccines from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, including on bank holidays if needed.
But in a letter to GPs, Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England’s medical director for primary care, acknowledged doctors may have to prioritise what they do.
“Our shared ambition is for general practice to remain fully open and accessible to all patients.
“We also recognise that the additional workload of a Covid-19 vaccination programme may require practices to prioritise clinical activity.”
The dedicated GP clinics will each need the capacity to administer at least 975 doses per week.
Practices will receive a £12.58 payment for each dose, making £25.16 for each patient vaccinated in a two-dose course, the documents show.
Patients will also need to be observed for 15 minutes after the vaccination is administered, while annual flu jabs and Covid-19 vaccinations must be given at least a week apart.
NHS England documents said appointments can be managed through a national booking system.
They said: “Once patients are notified by the national call/recall service they are eligible for a vaccination, they would have the choice to book an appointment at a general practice-led vaccination centre or use the national booking service to be vaccinated by another provider.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday he expected GPs to play a big role in administering any coronavirus jab.
Pharmacists and dedicated clinics set up in places such as sports halls are also likely to be used.