The BMA has said that the ‘challenges’ faced by practices signed up to deliver the Covid vaccine from this week are ‘frustrating’.
It comes as GPs continue to report issues with delivery of vaccine stock that have led to delays with the rollout.
One GP told Pulse that Covid vaccinations in their city could be delayed by up to a week, forcing their practice to re-contact 500 patients who had already been asked to book their test.
The BMA told Pulse that reports of practices experiencing delays to deliveries alongside the news that ‘a handful’ may not be taking part in the next wave of rollout ‘at this stage’ are ‘frustrating’.
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘When practices have worked so hard to get prepared in such a short period of time, it is frustrating to hear reports of some vaccine deliveries being delayed, and of sites being stood down from the next wave of the programme.
‘It will be particularly concerning for some patients who will have had appointments rescheduled and those same patients will be understandably disappointed.’
However, Dr Vautrey added that the ‘challenges’ are to be expected with vaccine development taking place over ‘such a short time scale’.
He said: ‘We must not forget that the development of this vaccine and making it available in such a short time scale has been nothing short of amazing and we always knew that delivering such a large programme would not be without its challenges in the early days – not least because of the unique properties of the Pfizer vaccine itself – and the need to equip and prepare the sites in a very short timescale.
‘Despite these challenges, large numbers of general practices across the country are starting to receive Covid-19 vaccinations and by the end of the week, we expect hundreds of practices will have vaccinated thousands of patients, taking a step closer to bringing this dreadful pandemic to an end.”
But GPs are continuing to experience delays – with one York GP telling Pulse it could be over a week before her hub can begin administering the vaccine.
Dr Abbie Brooks, a partner in York, said her practice was ‘expecting’ to begin vaccinations for their patients ‘later this week’ via a central hub which was set to deliver them at a ‘drive/walk-in site’.
Although the hub has been delivering flu jabs at the site ‘for the majority of practices across York’, it switched to a walk-in model after ‘increasing’ NHS England ‘concerns’ about a drive-through model for the Covid vaccine, she added.
The concerns are ‘due to reports of anaphylaxis and a need to monitor the patients for 15 minutes’, Dr Brooks said.
She added: ‘The switch has lead to a delay in delivery of the vaccines – it will likely be one week+ before the York hub can get going.
‘We had sent around 500 texts to patients asking them to book into the central hub but had to re-contact them again today and inform them of the delay.’
Other GPs also took to social media to express concerns about the ‘poor planning’ and ‘trickle of vaccine supply’.
Yesterday, Pulse reported claims that GPs were told of delayed deliveries and even that they may be stood down from this wave of vaccinations altogether.
It comes as Pulse revealed last week that PCNs have had to pull out of delivering the Covid vaccine this week because of the MHRA’s new anaphylaxis safety guidance – with other PCNs left to urgently reconsider plans.
And NHS England last week reached out to PCNs reconsidering their vaccine plans, saying they should approach their commissioner for support.
Around 100 GP sites were set to receive Covid vaccine stock on Monday, with ‘at least another 100’ to receive theirs today and more planned for later this week, NHS England announced.