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GP child immunisation gap

Children in deprived areas are missing out on vital GP immunisation services because practices are opting out, the Government has warned.

Ministers are keen to draft in alternative providers, including private firms, to fill what they claim is a growing gap in provision of immunisation services.

Ivan Lewis, parliamentary under-secretary for health, revealed 6.3 per cent of GMS practices had opted out of child immunisation, with deprived areas 'disproportionately' affected.

But Mr Lewis, replying to a question by Liberal Democrat health spokesman Steve Webb, said the Government had no idea what the impact had been on immunisation uptake.

It follows a warning in the Department of Health's recent community services White Paper that increasing numbers of GPs were opting out of child immunisation.

Dr George Kassianos, RCGP spokesman on immunisation, said the Government should offer GPs in deprived areas more support, rather than threatening to move immunisation services to other providers. 'No other country has a system which is so fast and so effective,' he said.

He added: 'These are practices that are under huge

pressure on every front in their daily work. They should not be condemned, they should be singled out for more help by the Department of Health.'

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