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Target pay 'key to MMR uptake'

The importance of GP vaccine target payments in bolstering MMR uptake has been highlighted by new research.

Coverage among two-year-olds was 74.8 per cent in practices not eligible for target pay ­ compared with 81.7 per cent in practices that were.

The study covered 74 practices in the Highlands, of which 45 per cent got no reward for achieving high uptake because they operate in remote areas where an inducement allowance guarantees a minimum income, from which vaccine target pay is deducted.

Uptake of other vaccines at two years was also significantly lower in practices without target payments, including men-ingitis C (82.8 versus 90.6 per cent) and diphtheria (89.3 versus 94.0 per cent).

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice (February), also revealed lower uptake rates in singlehanded practices. They achieved average MMR coverage of 72.1 per cent compared with 81.5 per cent in group practices.

Study leader Dr Rob Hen-derson, specialist registrar in public health at Highland NHS Board, said: 'The study was in a rural area so practices will have different challenges from a city practice. We're not out to bash singlehanders. There will be other factors such as input of staff, health visitors and access difficulties.'

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said the Government's refusal to allow informed dissenters to count towards vaccine targets penalised GPs for something beyond their control.

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