NHS England has said all PCN Covid vaccination services are ‘expected to’ administer the first dose to care home residents by the end of this week, and by 24 January at the latest.
In a letter being sent to PCNs, CCGs and its own regional teams, NHS England also announced that PCN groupings will receive £30 for any resident vaccinated from the start of the programme until 17 January – up from the £10 previously announced – on top of the standard £12.58 item of service payment..
It also said that it was ‘formal notice’ that ‘you may need to operate in line with the maximum hours stipulated in the Enhanced Services specification, 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week’.
Pulse reported that GPs will still need to visit care homes where there was an outbreak, which was also confirmed in this letter.
The letter says that care home vaccinations are the priority, with one death being potentially preventable for every 20 vaccinations.
It said that following the change of policy to prioritise first doses, and the arrival of the Oxford vaccines: ‘We are therefore expecting all PCN local vaccination services to administer the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to care home residents and staff in the older adult care homes for which the PCN is responsible by the end of this week wherever possible and, at the latest, by the end of next week (Sunday 24 January).’
At the same time, it announced an increase in the top-up fee given to PCN groups for every resident vaccinated, including those already vaccinated.
The letter said: ‘ We can now announce that to ensure the fastest possible coverage of care homes, first doses delivered in a care home setting from 14 December 2020 to close Sunday 17 January will now carry an enhanced additional payment of £30 instead, and doses delivered in the week beginning 18 January a payment of £20.’
NHS England said that GPs should be working extended hours in order to meet these targets. The letter said: ‘In order to meet this timeline, this letter is formal notification that you may need to operate in line with the maximum hours stipulated in the Enhanced Services specification, 8am to 8pm, 7 days per week and you should approach your CCG for any support required.’
NHS England had originally said that GPs would need to vaccinate a total of 248,581 residents across almost 11,000 care homes in England by the end of this month.
Health secretary Matt Hancock announced this week that almost 25% of older care home residents have received their first dose of the vaccine.
Mr Hancock last week said that all GPs and their staff will be vaccinated by 15 February – and hopefully ‘sooner’.
It comes as two further GPs have died with Covid-19, bringing the total number of GPs lost to the pandemic to 16.