NHS England’s top GP will lead a team to boost Covid vaccine uptake among minority groups by targeting staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
And individual practices could soon deliver jabs directly to their communities in religious buildings and community centres, NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani has said.
The latest NHS England board papers, published today, said it is working to ‘maximise vaccination uptake, particularly for specific communities who have seen disproportionate mortality and morbidity rates during the pandemic’.
The papers added that a ‘specialist equalities team’ is working to address uptake, while a dedicated team has also been established to support ‘effective communication’ with BAME healthcare staff.
Dr Nikki Kanani and NHS chief people officer Prerana Issar will head up the staff-focused team, which recognises that members of the NHS workforce is the ‘biggest advocates and leaders within their own communities’, the papers said.
NHS England also said that local directors if public health will work to ‘bring the vaccine closer to communities who find it harder to access services’, such as through mobile teams or ‘trusted voices in the community’ and faith leaders.
Earlier this month, the Government’s Covid vaccination plan revealed that GP-led roving vaccination teams ‘could be extended’ to reach minority groups such as the homeless and ‘communities with lower vaccination rates’.
And Dr Kanani today suggested that individual practices should do ‘whatever is needed to ensure vaccine equity’, including taking vaccines out of their practices and into the community.
It comes as NHS England this week said that GP-led vaccine sites can share stock with other vaccination sites across all settings in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Earlier this month, PCN groupings were told they can move supply of the Oxford vaccine around individual GP practices and to care homes and housebound patients.
The NHS England board papers also set out the next steps of the vaccination programme, confirming the Government’s ‘ambition’ to complete the vaccination of priority groups by the spring and all other adults by September.
They added that key workers may be prioritised for the jab after the JCVI’s nine priority cohorts – although NHS England’s chief executive yesterday suggested that key workers could start being vaccinated after the first four groups.
The papers said: ‘Once all at-risk groups one to nine to have been offered their first dose of vaccine, the vaccination programme will deliver the vaccine to the rest of the adult population (18-49 years old).
‘As set out in the Vaccines Delivery Plan, the Government will consider all relevant data and set out plans for prioritisation. This could include a focus on further reducing hospitalisations and targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services.’
A ‘mix’ of delivery models will be needed to match the needs of patients, including a focus on online bookings and ‘convenient’ vaccination that ‘fits in with their working lives’, they added.