The flu jab can be given to at risk patients by community pharmacists thus season as part of a £2.8 billion contract deal aimed at increasing their role in primary care.
Pharmacists will be given additional funding, on top of the £2.8 billion, so that patients aged over 18, who are defined in the annual flu letter, can receive their seasonal influenza vaccine at community pharmacies from September 2015.
However the move has faced criticism as the British Medical Association (BMA) General Practice Committee (GPC) fears practices could end up out of pocket if they have already bought their flu vaccine for this season and could have over-ordered. There are also concerns it could confusion over who has had the vaccine.
Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA GPC said: “Since this is now being introduced, the government does need to put in place proper protocols that allow accurate records to be shared between pharmacists and GPs as at the moment the NHS bureaucracy is not flexible enough to allow this to happen speedily. Failures in data collection can make it more difficult for flu immunisation targets to be met and for GP practices to identify which patients need to be immunised.
“The fee for this service for GPs should now be reviewed as pharmacists do not have responsibilities for record keeping or call/recall procedures that GPs have,” he said.
The new contractual framework, was announced by NHS Employers following negotiations between NHS England and Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).
Felicity Cox, lead negotiator for the NHS Employers organisation, said: “This new service expands the role of Community Pharmacy, making better use of the clinical skills of pharmacists and delivering improved choice and access to services for people.”
There was also an agreement to work together to develop business cases for new community pharmacy services for consideration in the 2016/17.
As part of the new framework pharmacists will be required to warn patients who claim exemption from prescription charges, where no evidence is presented, that the NHS routinely checks claims for exemption and takes action whenever inappropriate claims are made.
There will also be a joint working group established to review the costs and system issues for the Electronic Prescription Service, and pharmacies will be required to participate in a national audit that will take place in 2015/16.