GP practices will not face repercussions if they waste more than 5% of Covid vaccine stock, Pulse understands.
NHS England’s service specification for Covid vaccine delivery states that GPs must ensure wastage of stock ‘certainly does not exceed 5% of the total number of vaccines supplied’.
But previously, it remained unclear whether there would be any penalties attached to this.
Now Pulse understands that while GPs should make every effort not to waste precious stock, wastage can happen for lots of different reasons and the specification is not punitive.
And while the vaccine should be used to vaccinate those most at risk, no uptake targets have currently been set for practices.
The service specification said: ‘Appropriate procedures must be in place to ensure stock rotation, monitoring of expiry dates and appropriate use of multi-dose vials to ensure that wastage is minimised and certainly does not exceed 5% of the total number of vaccines supplied.
‘Wastage levels will be reviewed by the commissioner (NHSE) on an ongoing basis.’
If wastage exceeds 5% of stock supplied but is ‘as a result of supply chain or commissioner (NHSE) fault’, those vaccines will be ‘removed from any wastage calculations’ reviewed by NHS England, it added.
Meanwhile, the document said that practices must ‘proactively’ invite patients for vaccinations to ‘support high uptake of vaccinations and minimise vaccine wastage’.
NHS England told Pulse local teams should plan together to ensure they minimise wastage, adding that practices must demonstrate they have enough patients to vaccinate in order to receive a delivery.
NHS England told practices earlier this month that they should give any leftover jabs to their staff members who have been identified to be most at risk.
This is to ‘ensure minimal wastage’ of vaccine stock in case of ‘unfilled appointments or residual supply’.
It comes as the BMA has called for more equal access to the vaccine for doctors working on the frontline, amid reports that hospital admin staff are being prioritised ahead of patient-facing GPs.