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GPC anger at snub on child vaccine changes

GP leaders have angrily condemned the Government's failure to inform them in advance about major changes to the UK vaccination programme.

They have also attacked delays to negotiations over payment for the extra workload from the changes.

The Department of Health announced the introduction of the pneumococcal and combined Hib/Men C vaccines to the media last week before notifying GPs.

It has also emerged that the department held back potentially valuable information from clinical trials on the acceptibility of the new schedule.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said: 'The announcement on the changes was rushed out with hardly any warning at all. We were not too pleased that we were almost the last to know.'

Dr Meldrum added: 'There has been no discussion yet [on pay] ­ apart from belatedly informing us the announcement was coming. We are in the process of mandating NHS Employers to discuss this with us. It will need to be appropriately resourced.'

He warned the recently renegotiated target payments for vaccination would probably now have to be reviewed.

Pulse has learned that the Government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation discussed data on likely reactions to the schedule as early as October.

UK trials suggested nurses had no difficulty giving three vaccines in one visit, while a survey found the schedule was acceptable to parents ­ but none of this information was circulated to GPs.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, said: 'I've been asked twice already today by parents about whether their child is going to get the new jab ­ they had read about it in the newspapers. It would have been useful for GPs to have had information in advance.'

Dr Stephen McKenning, Portsmouth LMC chair, said: 'This is policy by publicity. GPs have got to find the time and resources to provide this programme.'

Dr Gary Calver, medical secretary of Kent LMC, agreed: 'The immunisation department seems to be in disarray.'

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