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GPs left in the dark over HPV vaccination

The lack of clear national guidance on HPV vaccination is leaving GPs unsure of advice to give patients requesting the vaccine, and in the dark about whether they will reimbursed for the vaccine.

A Pulse investigation has revealed that, of 22 PCTs approached, only 5 said they would offer reimbursement in full to GPs who gave a patient the vaccine.

Others left GPs to foot the bill –£240 for a full course of injections – from their own prescribing budget, which would then be under scrutiny by the PCT.

The full HPV vaccination campaign is due to commence in September 2008.

But so far clear guidance for GPs has been conspicuously lacking, with the Department of Health leaving GPs to give the vaccine on the NHS ‘if the clinical circumstances of a patient warrant such action'.

Many PCTs are also delaying issuing any information to GPs on what to advise patients who ask for the vaccine until given specific approval from the Department of Health, who said specific guidance would only be issued once the national programme had been rolled out.

Dr Paula Briggs, a GP with an interest in sexual health in Liverpool, said the situation was ‘incredibly variable' in different PCTs.

‘What GPs need is for their PCT to issue in writing that they are happy for GPs to prescribe the drug, for example if a 17 year olds who are going to miss out on the catch-up campaign.

‘In some situations it would be very difficult to refuse, es-pecially if they go on to de-velop cancer of the cervix. That would leave GPs in a very difficult position.'

HPV

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