GP networks can now access additional staff for free to support the delivery of the Covid vaccine in care homes, NHS England has announced.
Staff deployed to PCNs in the ‘short-term’ by regional directors of workforce and community trusts will be paid by their normal employer, with reimbursement to follow, it said.
An NHS England letter sent to regional directors of workforce this week said that PCNs will need ‘extra staffing’ to deliver Covid vaccines to care homes in some instances.
It asked them to locally identify staff recruited to support PCNs with the vaccination programme, including returners.
The letter said: ‘Primary care networks have been asked to consider their staffing requirements carefully and identify workforce that can support the delivery of this work. We recognise, however, that there will be instances where extra staffing is required.
‘To support this deployment, we are asking lead employers and regions to identify staff recruited to support the delivery of the vaccination programme locally to provide support. We would like to also encourage that individuals deployed via the Bringing Back Staff scheme are given the opportunity to support primary care.’
Community trusts are also expected to deploy staff in the ‘short-term’ to support care home vaccinations, it added.
PCNs will not have to pay for additional staff deployed to deliver care home vaccinations, which will be covered by their ‘normal employer’ and then reimbursed, it said.
The letter said: ‘To facilitate this rapid mobilisation of staff, we are asking that staff are paid by their normal employer for the work undertaken, be this as part of their normal substantive pay arrangements or bank pay if they are an ad hoc worker.
‘Funding will be made available and distributed to providers locally for work undertaken to support this ask.’
It added that there will be ‘no recharging arrangements to primary care specifically for work related to care home vaccinations’.
But activity must be ‘appropriately financially coded to ensure that reimbursement is made for work undertaken’, it said.
Details on the reimbursement available for primary care’s ‘additional’ care home vaccination costs are being ‘finalised’ and will be outlined ‘in the coming days’, NHS England added.
However, PCNs will have to cover the costs of any other extra staffing capacity they require outside of care home Covid vaccinations, it said.
They should liaise with their ‘lead employer’ as soon as possible detailing what workforce is required and how long for, it added.
The letter also reiterated that GPs should adopt a ‘roving’ model to vaccinate care home residents and staff – with a view for the programme to be rolled out ‘as soon as possible, including before 31 December’.
Recommended teams include two vaccinators (one lead and one support), a nurse or pharmacist vaccine manager to lead vaccine reconstitution and cold chain management, a paramedic or nurse post-vaccine observer and a team administrator – although this should be ‘adjusted’ for each care home.
Last week, it was revealed that GP Covid vaccinations are set to be rolled out more widely to care homes in England from this week, following trials in seven areas.
And NHS England guidance has said that GP teams delivering Covid vaccinations should visit care homes a ‘minimum’ of four times and that ‘regular’ follow up visits ‘may be required’.