Practice managers must be informed about developments to the Covid vaccine programme before patients and the media, the Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) has said.
Its comments come after the Institute reported practices were informed of immediate updates to the Covid vaccine campaign via Pulse, Management in Practice’s sister title.
Pulse reported this morning (3 September) that NHS England has said GPs should start identifying severely immunosuppressed patients who are eligible for a third Covid jab immediately, for a 13 September start.
The IGPM said that many practice managers have not yet heard when the vaccines are being delivered, and that releasing this information is ‘inappropriate and unhelpful’, urging NHSE to send out joined-up communications.
It added that the Institute has also been notified that flu deliveries via Seqirus will face a one- to two-week delay.
‘These additional challenges, alongside an already stretched workload and exhausted workforce are causing huge problems for primary care and will undoubtedly lead to more frustration from patients who will naturally assume primary care is at fault for delays in administration of both vaccination programmes,’ it said.
Tweeting the statement, the IGPM said ‘we need to know before our patients’ and with enough time to plan and deliver the vaccines.
Identifying patients by 13 September
Pulse today reported that a letter NHSE has sent to GPs said delivery of a third vaccine dose to the eligible cohort of patients should start by 13 September as part of a ‘coordinated approach’ between primary and secondary care.
It added that practices that aren’t delivering the vaccination programme should hand over details about their patients by 17 September, but it said that local searches it is providing to support this may not be available until the ‘end of September’.
NHSE’s letter said: ‘We are asking all GP practices to identify individuals on their registered list against the eligibility definition provided by the JCVI.
‘This will be supported by provision of searches (we expect these to be available by the end of September), but where practices can identify individuals themselves in advance of this, they should.’
It went on to say: ‘Practices that are not delivering the Covid-19 vaccination enhanced service should share a list of eligible patients with their local commissioner so they can arrange for these patients to be offered an appointment at another provider (eg, another PCN-led vaccination site or Hospital Hub) by 17 September. This request is necessary for the reasons of public interest).’
It comes days after it was announced that around 500,000 people with ‘severely weakened immune systems’ would be offered a third dose of the Covid vaccine, following new JCVI advice.
The JCVI recommended that this should include patients over 12 who were ‘severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV and recent organ transplants’.