Practices and pharmacies should work collaboratively to administer the flu vaccine among the eligible population, three local bodies have said.
In a letter to GP practices and pharmacies sent last month, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMC, Pharmacy Thames Valley and Buckinghamshire Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) said that GPs and pharmacists should ‘work together to achieve the intended aims to improve vaccine uptake amongst the eligible population whilst offering patients the choice of where to access their vaccination’.
The letter said that ‘unfortunately, [the flu vaccination service] appears to have led to a competitive environment where providers are fighting to vaccinate patients first’.
It read: ‘We always expect GPs and pharmacists to maintain professional integrity and to practice in accordance with the code of ethics as set out by each profession’s regulator.
‘NHS England expects that the guidance issued for delivery of the flu vaccination service by community pharmacy or general practice will be followed in all respects.’
Flu season 2017/18
NHS England received evidence of inappropriate behaviour by practices and pharmacies during the 2017/18 vaccine season, the letter specified.
For this reason, it reminded practices and pharmacies that ‘any promotion of the flu vaccination service, either verbally or written must not undermine the service offered by either profession’ and that these cases will be dealt with seriously by NHS England.
It added: ‘This includes any insinuation or proclamation that vaccinations offered by another [provider] are less effective, less safe, or that other providers have lack of capacity to deliver the commissioned service.’
Sharing best practice
Buckinghamshire LPC chief officer Mayank Patel, who co-signed the letter, told Management in Practice that the letter was sent to share best practice among pharmacies and GP practices rather than in response to specific cases.
It comes as an Oxfordshire GP practice sent its patients a text to encourage them to have their flu vaccine at the practice, after it lost patients to pharmacies during the last flu season.
NHS England has also encouraged pharmacies and practices to swap flu vaccines stocks amid shortages of both the aTIV and QIV vaccines, but the Government was later forced to suspend the regulation after NHS England said there is sufficient availability of the aTIV.