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GP immunisation payments under threat

By Nigel Praities

GPs who do not hit childhood immunisation targets are to lose payments for vaccination work and see alternative providers commissioned to provide the service instead, under plans circulated by senior NHS managers.

A policy paper from NHS London says PCTs should compare the performance of GP practices against each other and consider increasing non-GP provision if immunisation targets are missed.

Pulse has learned that trusts across the country have been urged to take similar measures, with the paper endorsed as a ‘regional highlight of the week' by commissioning advisory body NHS Primary Care Contracting.

The NHS London paper admits child immunisation coverage is ‘variable' across England and advises PCTs look at giving practices traffic light ratings on their performance at carrying out and recording vaccination.

Practices scoring a ‘red rating' should have their payments to cut and passed to alternative providers, it says: ‘Interventions for a red-rated practice should include consideration of whether GP payments should be reduced to free up resource for alternative provision of the service. Non-GP and opportunistic immunisation should be fostered as a practical alternative.'

NHS Harrow has already taken up the advice and published ratings online as part of its balanced score card. Out of 38 practices, 11 had an orange rating and 27 a green rating. Three were at risk of having their funding taken away, with a red rating indicating a childhood immunisation rate of below 70%.

Dr David Lloyd, a GP at a practice in Harrow with a green rating, said this was one way of his PCT introducing competition to try and improve general practice. ‘I would feel deeply upset if this happened to me. But it does force us to really think about things,' he said.

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