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GPs convince 70% of patients who refused Covid vaccination to reconsider

by Awil Mohamoud
8 March 2021

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GPs at a practice in Leicester have managed to convince almost 70% of patients who refused their Covid jab invitation to reconsider and make an appointment.

The practice called hundreds of patients as part of a pilot programme funded by the CCG, aiming to increase local vaccine uptake by giving patients a chance to discuss their concerns with their GP. 

GPs and other staff spoke with 210 unvaccinated patients from cohorts 1-4 on Saturday 27 February, and convinced 69% to book an appointment, with around 90% of those people turning up for the jab as of the following Tuesday, NHS Leicester City CCG told Pulse.

Around 9% still refused to make an appointment, and 22% said they needed to think about it, according to the CCG, while GPs also had to reschedule around 200 calls with patients they could not reach.

NHS Leicester City CCG said it is planning to roll out the pilot scheme to practices across the city from next week.

CCG chair Professor Azhar Farooqi told Pulse: ‘The professional group which has the highest trust of patients is probably GPs. So, if people are having doubts about having a vaccine, it makes sense that GPs should be the ones discussing it on an individual basis with them.’ 

He said, at the practice, GPs found that the reasons people were turning down the vaccines were ‘highly individual’, and that some were worried it could impact their medication or condition – questions which ‘aren’t always answered through media advertising’. He added that ‘very few’ talked about conspiracy theories.

Admin staff generally called the patients in the first instance, and if patients were still unconvinced, then put them through to their GP. 

Professor Farooqi said the CCG will provide GPs across the city with the funds needed to free up staff time for the calls – ‘which can take up to 15 minutes’ – and that this will allow them to, for example, bring in locums during the day. The CCG will be investing ‘existing resources’ to do this, he added. 

He said: ‘Not only can this be replicated across England, it should be. If we’re going to get 90% uptake for the population – we need to focus on the areas that have 70 or 80% uptake to get them up to that level. And this is the best way to do it.’

Dr Farzana Hussain, a GP partner in East London, has also been calling patients who have not taken the offer of the vaccine to provide ‘reassurance and reliable advice’.

A version of this article was first published by MIP’s sister title Pulse.