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GPs express frustration at not being prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination

GPs express frustration at not being prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination

The BMA has called for more equal access to Covid-19 vaccination for NHS doctors working on the frontline, amid reports hospital admin staff is being prioritised ahead of patient-facing GPs.

In a letter to NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens, the BMA warned it was ‘deeply worrying’ that access was not equitable across the health service and there seemed to be no consistent or systematic approach to vaccinating GPs and their staff.

Those at highest risk from the virus must be given priority in the vaccine roll out especially when we are seeing a ‘dramatic escalation’ in the number of cases, said BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul.

The letter comes as GPs expressed frustration that non-frontline hospital staff were being given access to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine ahead of primary care.

Doctors Association UK have also written to health secretary Matt Hancock over concerns that many frontline staff, including GPs, have not heard anything about when they would be vaccinated.

NHS England had advised GP sites administering the jabs to give spare leftover jabs to staff members identified as being most at risk.

But other frontline GPs have been told by their CCGs that they were not yet a priority.

GPs in Surrey, Nottinghamshire and Cardiff were among those told they could not yet book a Covid-19 vaccine appointment despite it being freely offered to hospital staff.

In response to complaints about CCGs taking differing approaches on vaccination of primary care staff, NHS England director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani said on Twitter: ‘Primary care staff absolutely can and should be vaccinated according to risk assessment.’

Guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is that frontline health and social care workers are of top priority alongside care homes and those aged over 80 years old.

The advice is that ‘frontline health and social care workers at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment, are considered of higher priority for vaccination than those at lower risk’.

Dr Prakash Kachhala, a GP in Nottingham, said there had been lots of confusion over risk assessment of healthcare staff.

‘Our CCG have told us that primary care staff should not book vaccination slots at our local hospital hub, despite some ringing the hub and being offered the vaccine and getting it done.

‘No risk assessments are being done to ensure the higher risk get it. It’s very worrying for primary care staff.’

Another GP in Nottinghamshire, Dr Shan Hussain, told Pulse he had written to the CCG expressing concern about the delay in primary care staff accessing the vaccine. 

‘As GPs, we are front-facing and have been seeing patients throughout the lockdown (despite media reports to the contrary). And as you will know, over 90% of all NHS consultations occur within primary care.

‘Many of us are high risk, BAME, and have pre-existing medical conditions. The decision to delay our vaccination has not only placed our staff at risk compared to secondary care workers, but is also damaging to morale within the workplace,’ he said.

He received a response from the accountable officer agreeing that there was a need to prioritise the highest risk staff and teams were revising plans to ensure JCVI recommendations were met.

‘As the vaccine becomes more widely available, I think access to the vaccine will improve significantly. Thank you for everything you are doing to support our local health services,’ the response said.

Dr Lis Galloway, a GP in Surrey, said the CCG had told them there was no provision for GPs to be vaccinated yet.

‘It’s care home staff, hospital staff and over 80’s only. It’s terrifying given we are in the South East.

‘We are still tier 2 officially, but it’s only a matter of time before we move into tier 4 as in the rest of Surrey considering the number of positive swab results I’ve seen from the weekend.’

She said some GP colleagues had been vaccinated after walking into the hospital hub but others were turned away.

‘There is no consistency and as someone who is seeing Covid cases and with additional risks, it extremely disheartening to see hospital admin staff being prioritised over frontline health workers.’

A letter to general practice from Surrey Heartlands CCG apologised for any confusion but said the hospital hub had not been commissioned to deliver vaccines to primary care or community staff.

It said that when community vaccine sites had empty appointments they had been proactively phoning neighbouring GP practices and inviting staff in for the vaccine.

‘Unfortunately we are not yet in a position to offer a system wide vaccination service to primary care staff until the initial cohort of priority patients have been vaccinated.

‘However, as vaccine supplies increase in the New Year and as we open up the mass vaccination site/s we will ensure that GPs and patient facing primary care staff are contacted and offered an appt,’ the letter said.

Dr Zainab Najim, Secretary of the Doctors’ Association UK and a GP registrar criticised the lack of top down communication from the Department of Health over vaccination of front-line staff amidst news of a more transmissible strain of Covid-19.

‘Without a universal policy to vaccinate frontline patient-facing staff as a priority, and no review of current PPE guidance, we could be facing avoidable staff sickness and absence over the already difficult winter months.’


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Turn out The lights 22 December, 2020 3:40 pm

Dont want to pay us dont want to protect us and still we dont get the message .Exodus will continue.

John Glasspool 22 December, 2020 4:02 pm

No way am I doing any imms unless immunised first! (Over 60)

Patrufini Duffy 22 December, 2020 5:22 pm

Hot clinics. Care homes. AE redirects. Hospital clean ups. Mass immunisers, but not immunised. You couldn’t even get a test, until mid summer, let alone a PPE portal. Let’s be honest. The DoH treats you like shackled slaves. Look after yourself first, set a new year’s resolution.

Nicholas Sharvill 22 December, 2020 5:34 pm

There would be a certain degree of logic if the Police and then Teachers and public facing transport staff are added next as well as health care staff so society can function next term and continue to advise those at risk and not in work to isolate would it not?

David jenkins 23 December, 2020 12:31 am

had generic email from a field hospital 60 miles away asking for help staffing their hospital.
replied explaining i would love to help – but unfortunately i’m nearly 71, and high risk, so “no can do” until i get covid vaccine. very sorry.
result ? – clinical director arranged for me to have vaccine with no delay.
result ? – happy clinical director, happy locum gp with 40 yrs experience, happy hospital staff and workplace, me back in work. all sorted.

i’m very lucky i’m running off capacity of one lung – the admin staff in our local hospital, prince philip in llanelli, are apparently having the vaccine before doctors and nurses working on the covid ward.


Vaishali Nanda 23 December, 2020 10:39 am

a front line GP, clinical director in few weeks going to lead on vaccination designated sites I wanted to get some protection so headed to our local trust. Was turned away as GP not on picking list. Whilst I waited outside for my husband who is consultant in the trust to be vaccinated I was mortified to see a queue of young people who were sent from shops in hospital and one said they have been told vaccine is going waste so rushed from the shops. My patient who works in the trust is a medical secretary ,who is not high risk and works remotely but got the vaccine as walked in to the centre. A few GPs still managed but it depended who was on duty that day.
our staff who are working in vaccination centres exposed to close to 1000 people over 3.5 days should have been offered priority vaccination .

The Prime Minister 23 December, 2020 10:54 am

We are considered “filth” by the government…..worthless turds whose lives and personal health matter not………

A non 23 December, 2020 5:25 pm

Despite the continuous praise the NHS is rotten and corrupt. We get almost saturation coverage of near angelic folk in blue scrubs swanning around hospital corridors sharing stories of ceaseless dedication when great swathes of the work force are entirely forgotten and used. No one gives a shit about health care staff outside hospital – unless they make a good story on the evening news (like care home staff) I utterly detest the administration of the NHS.

John Glasspool 27 December, 2020 12:41 pm

Govt view: you’re expendable.

Kevlar Cardie 28 December, 2020 6:30 pm

Straight up gen: Pfizer has proven that CoVid 19 is destroyed on contact with aliquot dilutions of Hancock tears.
That’s a FACT .
Right now Chris Witty is kicking Matty boy in the cream crackers repeatedly while Jeremy Hunt hoses him down with Tabasco sauce.
Production is running at 110 %.
BoJo says it’s “going gangbusters”.
Just need Crapita to sort out the deliveries.