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NHS managers withdraw vaccination letter scheme without consultation

A local area team told practices they will have to invite over 65-year-olds for the flu vaccine by letter having previously run the service themselves, without consulting local GPs.

The Merseyside Screening and Immunisation team at NHS England wrote to practices to say that the service will no longer be delivered by Primary Care Support services, after the contract was given to Capita.

It is unusual for area teams to have taken on this service, but local leaders have said there has been ‘no consultation’.

The letter states: ‘As you will know, the national contract for PCS services has now been offered to an external provider, as a set of “core services”. These services do not include sending the over 65’s flu letter.

‘Because of this change, we are unable to arrange the sending of the over 65’s invitation letter from this year. Practices will need to fulfil their obligation to invite all those eligible for influenza vaccination, by other means.’

Dr Ivan Camphor, medical secretary at Mid-Mersey LMC, said that practices are being left to ‘fend for themselves’.

He said: ‘I’m very disappointed, we’re going to be discussing it at our next LMC meeting on 30 June and I will be writing to them to find out how they came to this decision and how they are going to help practices.

‘Practices will send out letters but a bit of help in partnership would have been greatly appreciated, especially in an area where there is increased deprivation – it does help fortify the message.’

But Dr Andrew Green, chair of the GPC’s clinical and prescribing subcommittee, argues that GPs are responsible for contacting patients in other areas and says that Merseyside practices were ‘very lucky’ if they have received this service up until now.

‘In my practice, for example, we use methods like notices, messages on prescriptions and telephoning because letters are so expensive,’ said Dr Green.