GP practices have until midnight on 7 December to sign up to the Covid vaccination enhanced service (ES), which will come into effect the following day.
In the service specification, published yesterday (1 December), NHS England said it will give practices at least 10 days’ notice before asking them to start providing vaccinations.
This comes as the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) today announced it has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use following ‘rigorous’ clinical trials and expert analysis, and that the vaccine will be available across the UK ‘from next week’.
Practices wanting to sign up to the enhanced service, which will continue until 31 August 2021 unless terminated before then, must notify their CCG by email.
Under the service specification, all collaborating practices in a PCN grouping will be expected to prepare and sign a Covid-19 vaccination collaboration agreement – which sets out how the clinics will be delivered – by the day before the first vaccine is administered.
Practices within a PCN grouping must also nominate a ‘host GP practice’ to receive payments due under the service ‘for and on behalf of the GP practice’, the document said.
‘This is necessary as existing systems are unable to support payment in a timely manner and to facilitate the payment system for this novel and complex situation where vaccination of the population across multiple locations and settings is required,’ it added.
As previously announced by NHS England, practices will be paid £12.58 for each of the two vaccine doses required, and the designated vaccination site must have the ability to deliver the service between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week, including on bank holidays.
However, in a letter accompanying the service specification, NHS England clarified that these opening hours ‘will only be required where the supply of vaccine necessitates this to ensure all of the vaccine available is being used to vaccinate patients as quickly as possible’.
‘Subject to change’
The service specification also said practices should be aware that vaccine availability and supply is ‘challenging’, and ‘may be constrained and is subject to change over time’.
NHS England is likely to make allocation decisions throughout the programme, it added, which could include ‘prioritising GP practices’ PCN groupings or the use of a particular type of vaccine’.
In the letter, NHS England confirmed that it ‘may be possible’ to set up additional vaccination sites within a PCN grouping ‘over time as vaccine supply increases’, but this will not happen at the outset.
According to the DHSC, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) will shortly publish its latest advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.