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Practice 'barcodes' in new vaccine tracking initiative

The Department of Health is launching a major new 'vaccine-tracking' initiative which could put barcode scanners and new IT software in every practice in the country.

The high-tech proposals aim to link vaccine barcodes with birth and health records, ordering in vaccines automatically by demand and making it easier for GPs to monitor adverse reactions.

The new technology should also automate payments to GPs – a proposal that will be tested in a pilot in Peterborough beginning next month.

According to the department, vaccine data collection systems are currently 'fragmented and are prone to duplication, error and wastage' – problems it attends to address with the initiative.

Dr Gillian Braunold, dep-uty chair of the joint committee on IT and a GP in Kilburn, London, said: 'Anything that would give us better management of stock control would be fantastic. We're down to notes on the fridge.'

She added that there was 'a lot of money to be made' in ensuring the right amount of vaccine was ordered in.

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