Practices will not be reimbursed for delivering the flu vaccination to their staff this year but are still obliged to offer it under their occupational health duties.
Last year, practices were able to claim an Item of Service fee and dispensing fee for vaccinating their frontline members of staff, in accordance with the Enhanced Service specification. This was regardless of whether or not the individual was registered with the practice as a patient.
But NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I) confirmed the complimentary NHS flu vaccination offer for primary care staff has not been extended for the 2022/23 campaign.
‘Flu vaccinations for primary care staff, like other frontline healthcare staff, revert to being an employer’s occupational health responsibility’, a spokesperson confirmed.
However, locum GPs remain eligible for an NHS jab from any practice whether they are registered there or not, for which surgeries can be reimbursed, says the 2022/23 Enhanced Service Specification for the flu vaccine programme.
The BMA said it had ‘serious concerns’ about practice staff not being included in the eligible cohorts for a free vaccine, and which are therefore not reimbursable.
In a newsletter last week, it said: ‘We have repeatedly raised our concerns about this with NHSE/I, especially as practice staff were included in last year’s programme, and this is something that we are continuing to discuss with NHSE/I as a matter of urgency.’
Including practice staff within the eligible cohort would improve uptake, protect patients, and help maintain the workforce, it added.
This year’s NHS England guidance says: ‘Vaccination is recommended for frontline healthcare workers and social care workers. This should be provided by employers as part of the organisation’s policy to prevent the transmission of infection.’
Under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act employers are required to protect employees from risks associated with their work – and this could include contracting flu.
But as GPs are not able to provide occupational health services under the GMS contract, they could not claim for immunising their own staff against flu until last year.
This year, the arrangement will revert to that situation.
However, there is still around £10,000 of income available for the average practice of 5,000 patients if they meet the target for inviting 100% of their eligible patients for a flu vaccination. Read how practices can maximise their income from flu vaccination.