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GP leaders win key concessions over swine flu vaccination of under fives

By Ian Quinn

Exclusive: GPs across Surrey, Sussex and parts of London have secured a breakthrough deal which will see them receive significant concessions over their workload for delivering the swine flu vaccine to children under five.

Under the terms of the deal, agreed by Surrey and Sussex LMC, hundreds of GPs will, until February 28, be able to use up to 50% of the time allocated to extended hours surgeries under the terms of their LES agreements for vaccinating children instead, as well as receiving £5.25 per vaccination.

It is the first major concession over workload agreed since talks over a national deal broke down last week, with the BMA claiming the vaccination of children would swamp GPs with extra work.

The deal has been secured for GP practices already signed up to provide extended hours in Hastings and Rother, West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and East Sussex Downs and Weald PCTs, as well as those in Kingston PCT. NHS Croydon, also in London, has agreed to the deal in principle and is expected to confirm the arrangement shortly, while NHS Surrey, which intitially refused to sign up to the terms of the deal, has now also signed on the dotted line.

In Kingston, GPs will be able to use all of their extended hours allocation until March 2010 for covering swine flu, as long as it is not in core hours, whereas GPs in the other areas will be granted extra flexibility throughout the working week.

The announcement means dozens of practices in London-and hundreds in neighbouring areas- will now have a much more flexible arrangement for covering swine flu than others elsewhere in the capital, with Londonwide LMCs last week agreeing a deal with NHS London which will see practices receive just the £5.25 payment plus a maximum of £100 in extra funding as part of a ‘token gesture' towards vaccination targets.

Similar deals - minus the token gesture - have since been revealed in other parts of the country, including the NHS North East and NHS South West SHAs, and other individual PCTs.

On top of the extended hours concessions, practices in Sussex, KIngston and Croydon will also qualify for a get a £100 token payment scheme similar to those in London, while GPs in Surrey will receive a £50 cash payment, on top of the payment per vaccination and practices not already signed up are being given an incentive of joining up to the extended hours DES by the end of March, in return for winning the swine flu concessions.

Dr Julius Parker, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex LMCs and a GPC member, said: ‘I'm delighted that seven out of eight of the PCTs in our areas have agreed to this. Our point of view has always been that this issue is not about money but about the workload.'

‘I would very much like to thank the PCTs who have signed up to this for showing an understanding of the issues involved for GPs.'

He added: 'I'm very pleased that Surrey has now signed up to the deal but I'm also very disappointed that no national deal could have been reached which would have reflected the issue of workload. The GPC did everything it could.'

GPs in Sussex and large parts of London have won concessions over workload GPs in Sussex and large parts of London have won concessions over workload How's the vaccination campaign going at your practice?

In order to understand what's happening across the country at a local level, Pulse is surveying GPs and would be grateful for your views.

Let us know how the swine flu vaccination campaign is going in your area with our short, sharp 30-second survey. Please click here to take the survey.

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