GPs have a week to opt out of continuing to deliver Covid vaccinations when the programme moves onto its second phase, NHS England has said.
It remains unclear when exactly the vaccine will be rolled out to under 50s – cohorts 10 to 12 – as part of phase two.
NHS England director of primary care Ed Waller today confirmed that PCNs will be able to continue delivering Covid vaccines when the current enhanced service covering cohorts one to nine comes to an end.
However, they must be able to deliver core contractual services at the same time, he told GPs at an NHS England webinar this evening.
If they would prefer to step back from Covid vaccination, they must opt out by next Friday 19 March, he added.
PCN groupings must decide as a whole whether they would like to continue delivering the vaccine, rather than at individual practice level.
Mr Waller said: ‘Given the role general practice has played in the programme so far, it’s essential that we give GPs and PCNs the opportunity to play a part in the programme going forward. And we want to support as many PCN groupings as possible to be part of the programme on an ongoing basis.
‘[However], we also know that we need to balance the delivery of some of the other work that goes on in general practice with the delivery of the vaccination programme and that’s recognised in the enhanced service proposals.’
‘Very light touch’ conditions will include ‘confirmation that practices are in a position to deliver the requirements’ of the core GP contract alongside vaccinations and that ‘they will be able to engage the workforce capacity that they need to do both’, he added.
Mr Waller outlined that the same terms and conditions, such as item of service (IOS) fees, will apply in phase two, while NHS England is hoping to extend current additional PCN clinical director funding – topped up from 0.25 WTE to one WTE – into the first quarter of the next financial year.
PCNs will be able to vaccinate ‘any patient’ within eligible cohorts – not just those registered at member practices – to encourage uptake by making vaccination ‘convenient’, he said.
But they will not be able to start delivering vaccinations as part of phase two until the Government has announced that the cohorts have become eligible, he added.
Practice-led vaccination sites will also be offered the opportunity to join the online National Booking System, Mr Waller said.
A letter setting out further details will go out to practices shortly, he added.
Once all cohorts in phase one have been offered ‘at least’ their first jab, JCVI interim advice is for those aged 40-49 to be prioritised, following by those aged 30-39 and then those aged 18-29.