There will be around 1,000-1,500 general practice led sites across England providing Covid vaccines, and GPs will need to confirm these by 16 November under the draft specifications being announced today.
Under the specifications, announced today, state that practices should be ready to start administering the vaccine by 1 December, although this would be a ‘very optimistic’ date for the first cohorts.
The specifications also state that practices will be expected to run their own call/recall process to maximise uptake, which will run alongside a national booking system.
Once patients are notified, they will have the choice to book an appointment at a general practice designated site or use the national booking service to be vaccinated at another centre – including the mass Nightingale centres set to be established.
It is likely that the DES will be delivered on a network basis, although the specifications do clarify that practices who are not part of the Network DES will still be able to take part, working collaboratively with other practices.
The specifications say that ‘it will not be possible to supply vaccine to most or all practices individually’.
In a letter to be sent to GPs, general practice teams and CCGs, NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikita Kanani and director of primary care Ed Waller write: We anticipate that on average around one site will be designated per PCN area, but the exact configuration needs to reflect the variable size of PCNs.
‘A few of the very smallest PCNs may join forces to provide a designated centre whilst the largest PCNs may have more than one. We expect around 1,000-1,500 general practice sites to be designated initially.’
They state that such a programme requires ‘all hands to the pump’, and they encourage ‘making every contact count e.g. in relation to housebound patients’.
Practices will need to nominate their chosen site by Monday 16 November. They add: ‘A CCG representative will then undertake a process to assess the extent to which the nominated site meets each of the specified criteria (covering vaccine storage, planning and co-ordination, site safety, vaccine wastage, space, workforce, patient experience, vaccine storage and handling, preparation, administration, aftercare, data collection and reporting).’
Once the CCG has made a recommendation, practices will be informed by Wednesday 18 November. The letter states that additional sites may be designated further on.
It also says: ‘A national call-recall system will be in operation. Practices are expected run their own call/recall process, alongside the national programme, to help maximise uptake. They will have the option of joining national direct booking arrangements if they wish and commit to meeting the additional requirements involved.
‘Once patients are notified they are eligible for a vaccination, patients would have the choice to book an appointment at a general practice designated site or use the National Booking Service to be vaccinated at another vaccination centre.’