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New PCN contract signals move to ‘collaborative’ vaccination delivery

by Eiza Parr
4 April 2024

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New changes to the PCN contract have signalled a move towards practices delivering vaccinations ‘collaboratively’ across the network. 

The PCN Network DES for 2024/25 includes a new clause that allows practices to administer jabs to patients from another practice within the PCN or from sites other than its own premises. 

It also now makes explicit reference to integrated neighbourhood teams, saying PCNs should ‘collaborate with non-GP providers to provide better care’.

If practices decide to deliver vaccinations under this new arrangement, the PCN must ensure they sign up to a specific agreement setting out how it will work.  

For any vaccination session delivered collaboratively, the PCN must nominate a lead practice, which will ‘be responsible for the operation of that session’ including ordering and holding the vaccines. Different lead practices can be nominated for different vaccination sessions.

Beyond these stipulations in the national PCN contract, practices can set their own terms locally for how collaborative delivery will work. 

This includes details of where the vaccination session will take place, how patients will be kept informed, how vaccinations are recorded on patient records, organising transportation of vaccines, and ensuring ‘appropriate staffing arrangements’.

The contract also said practices can decide their own arrangements for reporting vaccination data for payment purposes, including the provision of reporting information to any practices that ‘may need to claim for payment for its registered patients’.

NHS England explained that the changes aim to allow more flexibility for vaccinations to take place conveniently, with the change requested by primary care organisations.

At the end of last year, NHS England outlined a plan for vaccinations to become part of a ‘one-stop shop’ with other health checks, and for PCNs to lead vaccination programmes rather than individual practices.

The long-awaited strategy aimed for vaccinations to become a ‘fundamental part’ of PCN-level integrated neighbourhood teams, as described in the Fuller Stocktake the year before.

It also suggested an end to the current GP practice enhanced services and QOF targets, with ICBs set to take over population-level management.

NHS England set out a timeline for implementing this strategy, with ‘some commissioning and contracting changes’ expected in 2024/25 – these new changes to the PCN DES appear to be a step in this direction.

It has also been working towards aligning Covid-19 and flu vaccination payments, with flu payments currently paid to practices directly and Covid payments to PCNs.

The new clause on vaccination

A core network practice may collaborate with other core network practices in the following ways: 

  1. Administering vaccinations to eligible patients of other core network practices;
  2. Sub-contracting the administration of vaccinations to a patient to a person employed by another core network practice; 
  3. Administering vaccinations to patients from a site other than its practice premises; or
  4. A combination of the above.  

Source: NHS England

A version of this story was first published by our sister title Pulse