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GPs seek guidance on what treatments must be scaled back to deliver Covid-19 vaccine programme

The i 21/11/2020 Jaymi McCann
a person in a blue shirt: GP's have asked for guidance on how to conduct the vaccination programme (Photo: Valentin Sprinchak/TASS) © Provided by The i GP's have asked for guidance on how to conduct the vaccination programme (Photo: Valentin Sprinchak/TASS)

Doctors have called for guidance on which services should scaled back in order to role out the flu and coronavirus vaccination programmes.

The Royal College of GPs said that having two mass vaccination programmes running simultaneously is “unprecedented”, and that doctors must also be able to provide vital care as well.

Its comments come after the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said people over the age of 50 will be entitled to a free flu vaccine from the beginning of next month.

This latest age group can be vaccinated by their GP or pharmacist in England from December 1.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also said the military and NHS staff were on standby to roll out a coronavirus vaccine across the UK from the start of December, and will work “seven days a week” to do so.

It will be delivered through care homes, GPs and pharmacists, as well as “go-to” vaccination centres set up in venues such as sports halls.

Sensible

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the expansion of the flu vaccine programme to people aged 50 to 64 was sensible.

But he warned that the scale of the challenge facing GPs and their teams to deliver the flu programme must not be underestimated as it will also be central in delivering a coronavirus vaccine.

He added: “Having two mass vaccination programmes running simultaneously is unprecedented – and we must also be able to continue delivering the vital care our patients rely on us for.

“We have also called for assurance around supply of the flu jab for the expanded group of people now eligible for it – which we have received.

a man and a woman standing in front of a mirror: GPs were not given warning about the extended flu jab entitlement (Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire) © Provided by The i GPs were not given warning about the extended flu jab entitlement (Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire)

“We’re also encouraged to hear that work is ongoing to expand the workforce to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine.

“It’s is now vital that GPs and our teams receive details of how this will work in conjunction with the Covid-19 programme, as soon as they are available – as well as clarity on what tasks can be scaled back in general practice to create capacity to do this alongside continuing to deliver the vital care GPs and our teams do so on a daily basis.”

No warning

Dr Richard Vautrey, GP committee chair at the BMA, said that practices were not given prior warning to the announcement about the extension of the flu vaccination programme or provided with any information in order to respond to requests from patients.

He added: “Patients have understandably been trying to book appointments following the announcement of the extension of the flu vaccination programme to include all 50-64 year-olds, but although practices knew a decision about this may be made this month, they were not given prior warning or provided with the necessary information in order to respond appropriately to their patients.

“GPs and their teams have in recent weeks successfully delivered millions of flu vaccinations to protect their patients, and far more than at this time last year.

“They will now be accessing the national stockpile to ensure this new group in their communities are also protected.

“Once they have enough supplies, practices will then contact patients to offer appointments either at their local surgery or a specific clinic.”

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