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Minister confirms GPs have discretion to honour second-dose Covid vaccine appointments


flu vaccination programme


The minister for Covid vaccine deployment has said it is ‘right’ for GPs to use their judgement on whether to honour existing appointments to administer the second Pfizer vaccine dose.

However, his comments come as NHS England told GPs yesterday that booked appointments ‘need’ to be ‘cancelled and rearranged’.

Several PCNs have decided to keep second-dose appointments, after the BMA said earlier this week they would support any GPs making that decision.

A slide from NHS England’s GP webinar on Covid vaccinations, which took place yesterday evening, said: ‘Second dose patient appointments already booked need to be cancelled and rearranged.’

However, asked on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning whether GPs were ‘wrong’ to give out second doses without delay, vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘They will make those decisions ultimately, on local circumstances, and they’re right to have that ability.’

The news comes after the CMOs of all four UK nations instructed vaccination sites to delay second doses until 12 weeks after the first one.

MHRA and JCVI have authorised changes to the timing of the second dose of the vaccine from 3-12 weeks for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and from 4-12 weeks for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Sites which are having to cancel patients and rebook clinics are eligible for a fixed rate payment of £1,000 ‘to recognise the work involved and to support staff costs that may be incurred’, NHS England has said.

To reflect the change, NHS England has also said it will now pay GP sites after the first dose administered rather than after both doses have been administered. 

But Pulse’s sister title Healthcare Leader has reported on a number of GP sites which have taken the decision to keep existing second-dose appointments in place.

GPs have cited concerns over distress to patients as well as ethical concerns, based on the information given to patients when they consented to receive the first dose.

READERS' COMMENTS [6]

Patrufini Duffy 6 January, 2021 2:16 pm

Ministers. Glad we have them.

john mackay 6 January, 2021 2:44 pm

Except that NHSE have cancelled vaccine deliveries for second dose and so we are unable to deliver the second dose. As a result locally we have had to cancel TEN THOUSAND elderly and infirm patients at very short notice, who had appointments already booked. This has caused absolute chaos and creating a huge task for us. Sadly, many of these patients will undoubtedly still turn up expecting their vaccine, confused as to what is going on.

David jenkins 6 January, 2021 3:17 pm

what about wales ?

my second pfizer jab is due on 18/1/21. i have to go 60 miles to get it. i’m waiting to start in a field hospital two weeks after having second jab. at the moment, they don’t know when i’m going to start, and neither do i.

ridiculous state of affairs – they are understaffed, and i’m sitting at home in ignorance, twiddling my thumbs !

you couldn’t make it up !!

Subhash Chandra Bhatt 6 January, 2021 4:01 pm

It was all unnecessary to instruct ,not to honour second dose as planned.
They could have set a date when first dose recipient
Could be told of second dose in 12 weeks.
Now after all that they say gps discretion, what discretion? All Gps never wanted to mess up second dose dates.

Jenny Graham 6 January, 2021 8:09 pm

It is, unfortunately, not at our discretion as our deliveries for the second vaccines have been cancelled, so 2000 patients booked to next week will have to be cancelled.

Andrew Fripp 6 January, 2021 10:07 pm

Our patients know we are supposed to be prioritising first doses so when they have yet to be offered a first jab and hear of other patients getting second jabs they get pretty upset about it.