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GPs to take on HPV vaccination

By Steve Nowottny

The HPV vaccination programme is to be administered entirely by GPs in some parts of the country, after warnings some areas have too few school nurses to support a schools-based programme.

The vaccination programme, which kicked off last week, will offer vaccine to all girls aged 12 or 13, with a two-year catch-up campaign targeting girls aged up to 18 starting in September 2009.

The programme was originally intended to be schools-based, but Pulse has learned that some PCTs have already commissioned GP practices to administer the vaccine amid fears that school nurses would be swamped by the programme.

An article in the British Journal of School Nursing warned school nurses could see their workload triple, and were likely to require ‘increased staffing budgets'. Meanwhile the Royal College of Nursing has reported that preparation has been patchy, with ‘some areas that are better prepared than others'.

The majority of PCTs are still pushing ahead with a schools-based programme – but some have asked GPs to step into the breach.

In Cornwall, all GP practices have signed up to provide the vaccination under a local enhanced service after PCT bosses realised they would have to hire new nurses to carry out the programme through schools.

Dr Sarah Gray, primary care lead for women's health for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PCT, and a GP in Truro, said: ‘We have very few school nurses – we would have to have started recruiting last Christmas.'

Practices in Cornwall have on average 38 girls eligible for vaccination on their lists. Under the terms of the LES, GPs will be paid £7.53 per dose administered, and £15 per girl in the cohort if 90% of the cohort has been immunised.

Dr Paula Briggs, a GP with an interest in sexual health in Liverpool, said other areas could follow suit.

‘That will be the more expensive option, but if there aren't enough school nurses then that's the route they're going to have to go down.'

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