Exclusive GPs should not be ‘main providers’ of Covid vaccines, according to more than half of GPs responding to a major Pulse survey.
The survey of 761 GPs in England found 53 per cent think GPs should not be the main suppliers of Covid vaccines.
Less than a third (29%) of respondents said they should, while the rest (18%) said they didn’t know.
NHS England has said Covid vaccination sites run by GPs will be able to continue delivering injections until September if they have “sufficient capacity”, although some may be asked to suspend the service if necessary. they don’t offer “value for money”.
But GPs taking part in the survey raised concerns about funding for service and practice teams already ‘overwhelmed’ with work.
Manchester GP partner Dr Vivian Wilkinson told Pulse: ‘From a patient perspective it’s a great idea, but for a GP we already have so much work to do, with a backlog of case due to the pandemic.
“Trying to coordinate vaccinations is quite difficult, but if the Covid vaccination can be changed and given with the flu shot, and it doesn’t need the 15 minute observation afterwards, then that would have sense. However, we would need additional funds for staff.
And Stockport GP partner Dr James Higgins has warned that the financial impact of major Covid vaccinations could affect GPs’ ability to offer services to other patients.
He said: ‘We will inevitably be tasked with vaccinating the hardest to reach people – homebound, elderly, multi-morbid, nursing homes – to also resource other services to vaccinate the ‘low-hanging fruits’ increases the risk of our vaccination campaigns the complex is operating at a loss, which impacts our ability to provide services to other patients.
However, those who argue that GP practices are the main suppliers of Covid vaccines have pointed to the fact that GPs already regularly provide vaccines against a range of diseases and are “the first choice” for most patients.
Dr David Coleman, partner of Doncaster GP, said: “We currently deliver seasonal flu, baby vaccinations and travel vaccinations. As long as Covid vaccination is well funded and is something that practices or NCPs have some choice, it is something we could accept.
Portfolio GP Dr Christine Clayton added: “We know how to run an efficient and organized vaccination programme.
“We’ve been doing this for the flu for years. We are much cheaper than pharmacies and the first choice for most patients.
The enhanced GP Covid vaccine service was due to expire at the end of this month, but it was extended last week until September.
NHS England had previously indicated it was to be extended – although it told GPs the delivery was not expected to impact basic GP services and said it ‘expects’ that some vaccination sites run by GPs would ‘deliver far fewer vaccines or hibernate over the next few months’.
Meanwhile, the National Audit Office (NAO) found that Covid jabs delivered by GPs were better value for money than mass vaccination centres.
But Health Secretary Sajid Javid said a ‘national vaccination service’ was needed to ensure GPs were no longer asked to stop routine care.
NHS England said PCN vaccination sites should ‘not be expected’ to lead the Covid spring booster program or rollout for children aged five to 11, due to continued pressures on the workforce ‘artwork.
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