The Scottish Government has set out plans for how to vaccinate the country’s entire adult population against Covid-19, with GPs expected to participate via an enhanced service if they have capacity to do so.
However health boards will take the lead, and decide how the programme is delivered in their area, BMA Scotland’s GP Committee chair Dr Andrew Buist clarified to Pulse.
He further said GP practices will be able to decline to participate in the programme ‘if their capacity is such that their core functions risk being compromised’.
According to Dr Buist, the Scottish GPC ‘will encourage practices to engage if asked as much as their capacity allows’ but he welcomed the ‘all hands on deck approach’ taken in Scotland which will not see GP practices leading the campaign.
The item of service fee for GP practices participating in the enhanced service will be ‘similar to that in England’, Dr Buist further told Pulse.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, health secretary Jeane Freeman said the ‘major public service exercise’ aimed to reach everyone over the age of 18, or 4.4 million people – including one million people by the end of January.
She said: ‘Our planning assumption is that for vaccinators and support staff, we will need over 2,000 by the end of January. So that – vaccine availability and delivery schedules yet to be confirmed – we will be able to vaccinate around one million people by that time.’
To achieve this, vaccinations will need to be delivered from both ‘fixed and mobile’ locations to ‘make this mass programme as accessible as possible’, she added.
Scotland expects to see delivery of the first vaccines in December, with several vaccines to be available by January, and prioritisation to be based on JCVI recommendations, her statement revealed.
Ms Freeman said: ‘We of course need registered clinicians to vaccinate and to supervise vaccinations. Nurses and doctors, but also the wider clinical workforce such as pharmacists, dentists, and optometrists.
‘We’ve now concluded an agreement with the BMA on terms and conditions for GP involvement in the programme, and are working through agreements with other independent NHS contractors.’
Commenting on the announcement, Dr Buist said the Covid vaccination programme could not have been led by GPs due to workforce shortages.
He said: ‘Given this is a mass vaccination programme over a prolonged period, it is vital that there is an all-hands-on-deck approach across the entire healthcare system. So we welcome the plans set out today.
‘Given the shortages of GPs in Scotland and the huge pressures on their time, it was obviously not possible for GPs to run this programme single-handedly so I welcome the agreement we have reached that GPs will play a key role, while Health Boards will have overall responsibility for planning and delivery in their areas.’
In England, GPs have been asked to take the lead on the Covid mass vaccination programme, via an enhanced service under which practices will be paid £12.58 per vaccine dose administered.