GP practices with ‘sufficient workforce capacity’ can opt in to give autumn Covid boosters by 14 July, NHS England has said.
The enhanced service begins on 1 September 2022 and continues for an ‘initial period’ until 31 March 2023. GP practices will continue to be paid £10.06 for each vaccine administered, and £10 for each housebound patient.
The new guidance emphasised that only GP practices with ‘sufficient workforce capacity’ should sign up, ‘so as not to impact the delivery of essential services’.
New NHS England guidance setting out further details on the upcoming booster programme said: ‘Staff must indicate their willingness to participate in this enhanced service before 17.00 on 14 July 2022 unless otherwise agreed by the Commissioner (NHSE).’
In its preliminary plan for autumn Covid boosters, NHS England said the programme must not ‘rely too heavily’ on GP practices.
The guidance also said that from 1 January 2023, where there is ‘significantly reduced patient demand’, ‘unacceptable wastage of the vaccine’ and/or the GP vaccination site ‘does not represent acceptable value for money’ in the eyes of NHS England, all practices in the PCN grouping may be required to suspend the vaccination services in a ‘pause’.
Last month, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended another autumn booster vaccine for some at-risk groups and frontline health and social care workers, under interim guidance.
NHS England also said it will consult with GPs ‘over the next few weeks’ about its development of a future ‘integrated vaccination and immunisation strategy’ and service.
In January, the health secretary said that a ‘national vaccination service’ is needed to ensure GPs are not asked to stop routine care again, controversially suggesting that the service could cover ‘other vaccines’ as well as Covid jabs.