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Firms use Act to fish for quality scores

The Government's much trumpeted campaign to target influenza vaccination at high-risk patients under 65 is descending into chaos.

Vaccine uptake was running at only 40 per cent by the end of November in the handful of PCTs that had managed to collect data.

But many more had failed to collect figures after GPs complained about the work required to conduct detailed, age-stratified searches using unsuitable computer software.

Dr Ranjit Gill, chair of Stockport LMC and a GP in the city, said: 'I don't believe practices should have to provide that sort of information. The NHS should utilise systems already in place.'

The chaos and disappointing uptake will come as a blow to the Government, which had made vaccination of high-risk groups a key element of its flu campaign. It is also set to hit GPs' quality pay.

Yet in the over-65s, the flu campaign has recovered from the disastrous start caused by the withdrawal of supplies by Chiron.

New Department of Health figures for England and Wales show uptake in November was running at 69 per cent, a 2 per cent rise on last year ­ and just 1 per cent below the Government target for end-December.

Drive falls flat

August 04 Scottish Executive sets a target of 60 per cent uptake in high-risk patients

October 04 Government announces UK-wide drive to encourage vaccination in high-risk under-65s and asks GPs to provide data through a new web-based reporting scheme

November 04 GPs highlight confusion over conflicting criteria for vaccination in the quality framework and Department of Health guidance

December 04 England and Wales uptake data in at-risk under-65s is announced for the first month of the campaign ­ and is running at just 29.4 per cent

January 05 Department unable to report updated figures after practices resist pressure to collect data ­ unofficial figures suggest uptake is 40 per cent

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