The administration of Covid vaccinations from GPs’ individual practices will be ‘looked at properly’, the health secretary has said.
GPs currently provide Covid vaccines from designated primary care network (PCN) sites, after NHS England asked practices to nominate one site per PCN grouping at the start of the vaccination programme.
Last month NHS England again requested PCN groupings sign up to the enhanced service for the second phase of the programme – but said GPs must also be able to deliver core contractual work at the same time.
However, during a House of Commons debate on 19 April, Conservative MP for Rugby Mark Pawsey noted GPs have dropped out of the second phase of the programme because there is no option to vaccinate patients in their own surgeries.
Rugby’s PCN-led vaccination centre is expected to shut in mid-July as a result of the lack of flexibility, despite having provided over 34,000 first and 11,000 second doses to the first nine priority groups so far, he added.
Mr Pawsey said: ‘Our local doctors would prefer to vaccinate groups 10 to 12 in their own surgeries, although that option is not currently available to them.
‘What can the secretary of state do to facilitate that approach to the important task of vaccinating the under-50s?.’
Responding to Mr Pawsey’s question, Mr Hancock said the current system of practices working as PCNs to deliver the programme has ‘worked really well’, but that he would investigate this possibility.
He said: ‘I will look into that question, which has not been raised before. Generally, the use of a primary care network—a group of GP practices—to come together to offer one centre has worked really well.
‘That is the first I have heard of that concern, so I will take it away and ensure that it is looked at properly.’
In January, NHS England published guidance stating that PCN groupings could move supply of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine around individual GP practices, but that this should only be done ‘where it is considered that this will improve patient access or increase vaccination capacity’.
GPs wanting to opt out of phase two of the programme were asked to do so last month, but NHS England has so far declined to share how many made this decision.