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NICE signals significant changes in BP guidance

Ministers will be forced to justify their new system for vaccine pay to Parliament after the Conservatives threw their weight behind Pulse's campaign to have the changes scrapped.

Andrew Lansley, the Tory health spokesman, will demand to know if the Government evaluated the effect of the change in uptake calculations on practice finances and immunisation rates.

GPs have warned that the new rule, in which MMR counts towards half of childhood uptake rather than a quarter, will cost practices thousands of pounds this year.

Mr Lansley will submit parliamentary questions on the Government's justification for the change, whether it will be reviewed and if ministers are prepared to perform a U-turn.

The pressure on ministers rose further as immunisation experts warned the rule could seriously hit uptake rates.

Dr John Rodriguez, director of public health at Ashford PCT said: 'Targets are meant to motivate. If they are not achievable with a reasonable amount of effort they can do the opposite.'

Bruce Lawrence, director of public health at High Peak and Derbyshire Dales PCT, said: 'If GPs were any less motivated then it is quite likely [uptake] levels will drop.'

Experts warned that if GPs were forced to opt out of providing the service altogether it would be catastrophic.

Dr Mark Lambert, director of public health at Gateshead PCT, said a reduction in vaccine coverage would be a 'population health disaster'.

Dr David Baxter, a consultant in communicable diseases in Stockport, said: 'We rely on GPs. We have no capacity to deliver this service at PCT level.'

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