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Almost half of GP practice staff ‘undecided’ about committing to Covid ES, LMC survey finds

by Awil Mohamoud
27 November 2020

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Four in 10 (42%) professionals working in London practices are ‘undecided’ about whether or not they will sign-up to the Covid vaccination enhanced service (ES), according to an LMC survey.

In the Londonwide LMCs’ poll of 482 GP practice staff, another 10% said their practice was not planning to take part, while 48% said their practice intended to sign up to the programme. 

The ‘temperature check’ survey, which closed on Monday (23 November), also revealed that half (53%) felt their practice needed support to make the decision.

The survey was open to nurses, practice managers, and other roles, as well as GPs. 

Dr Michelle Drage, Londonwide LMCs’ CEO, said: ‘Any vaccination programme has to be designed and delivered safely, with both practitioners and patients at the centre, if it is to work effectively. We will continue to push for a practitioner and patient-centred approach. 

‘Not only is it in the best interests of practice stability mid-pandemic, but practices’ local knowledge and understanding of these vulnerable cohorts is vital in ensuring they get the vaccine.’

Wider picture

This comes as NHS England urged all practices to get involved with the Covid vaccination programme ‘now’, rather than coming on board later when it may be ‘more complicated’ to do so.

Under the ES, practices will work as part of primary care network (PCN) ‘groupings’ and were required to jointly nominate a single site to deliver the Covid-19 vaccinations from by 17 November. Staff will be expected to deliver an 8am to 8pm service, seven days a week, and will be paid £12.58 for each of the two doses required.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMC told Management in Practice that he was aware that only two of 420 practices in the area have indicated that they may not participate and that all 82 PCNs have agreed a priority site.

A spokesperson for Lincolnshire LMC said they had not undertaken a poll of practices, but added: ‘Our straw poll is that all surgeries agree that they are in a good position to provide vaccination and want to help out, but that until the DES is published they cannot commit.’

Michael Wright, chief executive of Nottinghamshire LMC, told Management in Practice the organisation had not surveyed members and there was ‘little point with such a vague outline of an enhanced service to consider’.

He added: ‘We are in advanced stages of planning locally to incorporate the ES when it is finalised into a wider approach, using multi-agency staffing and mass vaccination centres. The role of PCNs is important in this too with regards to supporting and engaging practices in the planning and implementation.’

NHS England has said that an indicative service specification will be published ‘shortly’ and that details of the Covid-19 vaccination programme will be finalised ‘when final trial results and licensing has occurred’. 

Earlier this month, some LMCs warned the Covid vaccination ES risks putting GP practices ‘contractually at risk’, and suggested they could be left out of pocket.