GP practices signing up to this autumn’s Covid booster campaign will not be permitted to pause the service in the first four months of the campaign, NHS England has said.
In a document setting out preparing sites for phase five of the Covid vaccination programme, officials also said that any active or paused sites that are not continuing or not commissioned for the autumn campaign would need to close down.
‘Our planning assumption is that commissioned sites will need to deliver autumn/winter Covid-19 vaccinations between 5 September and 31 December 2022. Therefore, sites will not be permitted to pause between those dates,’ advice to commissioners said.
It comes after last week it was announced that GPs would have to notify of their intention to provide Covid jabs by the 14 July.
Impact on usual services
In addition to how many vaccines they will be able to deliver, agreements will need to include how this will be done without affecting their usual services.
But there will be support for temporary ‘pop up’ sites where it they improve access and tackle inequalities, the NHS England document said.
For any new sites coming on board, equipment and supply inventory lists will no longer be supplied nationally but either come from regional teams moving them from closed sites or through usual supply routes, the guidance said.
GP practices wishing to participate in the enhanced service will need to collaborate as part of a PCN grouping but there is an opportunity for practices to move or join PCN groupings to deliver Covid-19 vaccinations if appropriate, it added.
NHS England reiterated that GP practices wishing to sign up to the booster campaign would need to reassure their local system that they have the capacity to do this at the same time as providing core services, including providing a sustainable workforce plan.
Review if reduced vaccination fee is worth it
NHS England last week published the new enhanced service specification for the autumn booster programme, with the service to begin on 1 September 2022 and continue for an ‘initial period’ until 31 March 2023.
It set out that GP-led sites will be paid a £10.06 item of service (IoS) fee for each vaccine administered – down from £12.58 – and continue to be paid £10 for each housebound patient.
The BMA has urged GPs to review whether the reduced fee for delivering Covid jabs from September will impact their ‘ability to undertake the enhanced service’.
A notice shared by Cleveland LMC said: ‘NHS England has now published an updated enhanced service specification for the Covid 19 vaccination programme, alongside a covering letter. Practices should note that the programme from September will pay a reduced Item of Service fee of £10.06 per dose.
‘As a result, GPC strongly recommend that practices review the impact that this funding reduction will have on their ability to undertake the enhanced service.’