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GPC in U-turn over nurse vaccine rules

The GPC is set to bow to pressure from nurses' leaders and medical defence bodies and give its backing to patient group

directions for vaccinations.

In what amounts to a U-turn by the committee, proposals currently being finalised will back patient group directions for vaccinations such as influenza, according to GPC prescribing sub-committee members.

The move is aimed at putting an end to conflicting advice from nurses' leaders, defence bodies and PCTs which GPs say has caused widespread 'conflict and ill-feeling' in practices.

The GPC has resisted the move up to now, fearing it would massively increase red tape for GPs.

But Dr Peter Fellows, GPC prescribing sub-committee chair, told Pulse: 'We have discussed this with the nursing hierarchy. They were confident the GPC advice didn't have adequate regulations to give them legal protection. The GPC will be issuing new guidance on it.'

A patient group direction is a written instruction for the sale, supply and administration of named medicines in an identified clinical situation.

Current GPC advice – reiterated in the committee's new annual report – states that patient group directions are not required for vaccinating named patients, such as those on a practice list, as long as a clear written agreement such as a practice protocol is in place.

The guidance – first issued in 2002 – was based on 'clear legal advice' and was designed to dispel uncertainty among GPs and nurses about the legality of practice nurses vaccinating patients.

The GPC said the confusion had been created by PCTs pressuring practices into adopting patient group directions that could be 'complex and bureaucratic'.

Medical defence experts said that while it might be 'difficult or slightly unwieldy' to set up patient group directions, they would benefit

GPs and their staff by 'offering ease of access to mediation

under the umbrella of legal protection'.

Dr Tony Grewal, a GP in West Drayton, Middlesex, said: 'The difference of opinion between the GPC and the advice nurses receive from their leaders and PCTs is producing conflict and ill-feeling.'

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