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Million patients excluded from vaccination targets as practices get swine flu jabs

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs began receiving the swine vaccine to be given to 9.5 million patients this week, but Pulse has learned a million of them will not be counted in target calculations.

The BMA and the Department of Health have agreed only patients in swine flu priority groups who overlap with seasonal flu groups will be counted in determining whether practices qualify to have their patient survey thresholds relaxed.

The vaccination of pregnant women and household contacts of people with compromised immune systems will be excluded, after weeks of negotiations between the two sides.

GPs have been set the target of vaccinating at least 3% more people aged six months to 65 in clinical risks groups and patients aged 65 and over than was achieved last year for seasonal flu.

Each practice will be given its own swine flu vaccine uptake target, depending on its population but based on last year's national average.

Those that hit the target will be granted a 10% drop in the upper and 20% drop in the lower thresholds of this year's PE7 and PE8 QOF indicators – which could deliver tens of thousands of pounds funding, on top of the £5.25 they are paid per vaccination.

Dr Dean Marshall, chair of GPC Scotland and a GPC negotiator on swine flu, told Pulse: ‘We've got to compare like with like and so pregnant women and household contacts won't be counted.'

‘There's been a calculation done to work out the average level across the UK last year in clinical at risk groups in people aged under 65. That will be compared with swine flu at risk groups in the under 65s.'

The details emerged as practices were due to receive their first allocations of the swine flu vaccine, although several GPs contacted Pulse to report their vaccine had not arrived.

Dr Marshall admitted it was likely to be at least another week before the vaccination campaign swung fully into action.

‘Practices don't have the vaccine at the moment and the public seem to be a bit confused about when the programme will start. Logistically it's not likely to be until next week before we can start,' he said.

Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson warned GPs to brace themselves for ‘unprecedented' workload, as the latest figures showed 53,000 people were diagnosed with swine flu last week, nearly double the 27,000 cases recorded the week before.

Dr Mohammed Muzafer, a GP in Hounslow, London, said: ‘Our workload has increased in the last two weeks. There is a tremendous overload and it has affected badly those with chronic illnesses, as their care is now on the back burner.'

The swine flu vaccine begins arriving in practices from today The swine flu vaccine begins arriving in practices from today

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