The GP Covid vaccine enhanced service will have ‘flexibility’ for the BMA and NHS England to agree changes as ‘necessary’, the BMA has said.
For this reason, the parties have this week agreed that it will not be a DES but an ‘enhanced service directed by NHS England’.
Under section 7a of the 2006 NHS Act, the health secretary’s powers over a DES are delegated to NHS England in respect of an enhanced service, the BMA said.
However, any changes will be made only by national agreement between NHS England and the BMA’s GP Committee for England, it added.
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse: ‘While initial discussions had been on the basis of a DES, we have now been advised that S7A arrangement would provide the most appropriate contractual vehicle for the programme.
‘This will provide the flexibility for necessary changes – only with agreement between NHSEI and GPCE – that is crucial in such a fast-moving environment where we will need to add in new information without delay as more vaccines are supplied with different requirements.’
He added: ‘While we understand there has been unnecessary confusion, practices and patients will experience no differences resulting from the technical change, and the requirements of the programme remain the same.’
Other GP public health immunisation programmes such as shingles catch-up and childhood flu vaccinations are already commissioned in the same way, Dr Vautrey said.
A BMA spokesperson added that the content of the specification will be no different due to it being an enhanced service directed by NHS England rather than a DES.
The enhanced service will be offered to all practices under the same terms and cannot be varied by local commissioners, they added.
It comes as further details of the Covid vaccination programme were last night revealed in an NHS England webinar – including that NHS England will provide extra Covid vaccination clinical staff at cost to GP practices.