Exclusive NHS England has asked PCNs that are not signed up to give Covid booster jabs to the under-50s to ‘urgently reconsider’ their participation.
New operational guidance, seen by Pulse, also said that GP-led vaccination sites should increase their capacity to ‘the same level or above’ their ‘best day’ in the first two phases of the vaccination programme.
It comes as NHS England has revealed that fire and rescue and police forces will be among the extra workforce stood up to support GPs to deliver the accelerated Covid booster programme.
NHS England said: ‘If a PCN Grouping has not opted in to deliver boosters to cohorts 10-12 please urgently reconsider your participation (in light of the support recently announced [via] temporary contract changes) and notify your local commissioner as soon as possible if you are able to help deliver boosters to this group.
‘If a practice has served notice on the phase 3 ES, please advise your local commissioner if anything further could be done to support you to remain in this programme.’
It added that practices not participating should ‘urgently support their local vaccination efforts’ and ‘liaise with their local commissioner to discuss signing up to the ES or offering workforce to their vaccination site’.
NHS England is working with the Government to ‘identify additional areas where we can flex medical certification requirements to release capacity within general practice’, it said.
The guidance also said that GP-led vaccination sites should ‘consider’ extending their opening hours are ‘strongly encouraged’ to open seven days per week 8am to 8pm.
They must increase their capacity ‘to the same level or above your best day in phases 1 and 2′, it added.
All sites signed up to the national booking service must ‘immediately’ upload as much capacity as possible, including on bank holidays, it said.
Earlier this week, NHS England revealed that GP vaccination teams will be expected to deliver vaccination 12 hours a day seven days a week ‘as standard’.
But it said that they will be ‘compensated appropriately’ for delivering Covid booster jabs through the Christmas bank holidays and that details would follow as soon as this week.
NHS England also said that it will ‘back’ GPs to ‘make the clinical decisions that [they] need to’, after they were asked to ‘clinically prioritise’ Covid booster jabs over routine care.
The new document said: ‘Any patient with an urgent presenting complaint, or potentially serious underlying and unmet clinical need, should be assessed, managed, and referred onwards as appropriate.
‘Any patient with symptoms that are suspicious of cancer, or is concerned that they may have cancer, should again be assessed, managed, and referred onwards if appropriate.’
It added: ‘Any routine care that can be safely postponed should be rescheduled until the new year or signposted to NHS 111 online for self-care advice, or to local community pharmacy.’
The new guidance also said:
- GP-led sites must complete boosters for housebound patients ‘this week’ and complete a survey to confirm completion by noon on Friday
- They should consider ‘priority lines’ for clinically vulnerable or pregnant patients as well as health and social care workers queuing to receive a jab
- Support for security and other services such as cleaning ‘can be provided’
- GP practices signed up to the Phase 3 service should prioritise visits to care homes that have not yet been visited and arrange a further visit ‘where requested’
- The Winter Access Fund ‘remains available to support wider primary care capacity but cannot be used to fund vaccination capacity’
It comes as the MHRA announced yesterday that the requirement for patients to stay for a 15-minute observation after mRNA Covid vaccination can be lifted on a temporary basis during the ‘Omicron emergency response’.