GPs will ‘likely’ want to work with community pharmacies to ‘support delivery’ of the Covid vaccination enhanced service, NHS England has said.
Community pharmacies may also be called upon to ‘fill gaps’ in GP provision, it added.
This comes as Pulse reported that 5% of primary care network clinical directors said they would not sign up to NHS England’s enhanced service.
Further community pharmacies that are able may be asked to ‘stand up at scale in their own right’, alongside ‘mass vaccination centres’.
In a webinar today on the Covid vaccination programme, NHS England reiterated that general practice had a ‘particularly important role’ to play.
But slides presented to the audience added: ‘GPs are likely to want to work with community pharmacies locally to support delivery of the GP enhanced service, this might be through supporting vaccination in care homes or clinical oversight of vaccination clinics.’
They added: ‘We may also commission community pharmacy providers who can stand up at scale in their own right. As more supply and more vaccinations come on stream this is likely to develop.’
Speaking in the webinar, Jill Loader, deputy director for pharmacy at NHS England, said: ‘We anticipate that we’re going to need as many of the workforce who are trained in vaccination as possible and that community pharmacy will have the opportunity to get involved, either through mass vaccination sites or trust sites, or the PCN sites that will be providing these, because they will obviously need to vaccinate for long hours as explained.’
She added there might be some areas where ‘we don’t have the provision we need’ and NHS England ‘might look to fill some of that’ with community pharmacy providers.
However, she said that NHS England do not anticipate that ‘most community pharmacy contractors will be getting involved with that’ because of ‘considerations’ around the suitability of sites to store the vaccines and vaccinate at scale.
She added: ‘Down the line, we expect there to be other vaccines available and… we might well look at changing the model as the vaccination characteristics change.
‘So, this is not the model forever, this is trying to anticipate the initial vaccines that we might have into the supply chain and we will be continually reviewing that.’
GP networks delivering Covid vaccinations are encouraged to train up non-clinical staff to help giving jabs, and can use additional roles recruitment scheme (ARRS) funding to do so, NHS England said in the same webinar.
GPs in England have been asked to be prepared to start administering Covid vaccinations from as early as 1 December, under NHS England’s new enhanced service.
It comes as pharma giant Pfizer reported successful phase 3 trial results today and said it intends to seek regulatory approval within days in the US, and share results with regulators across the world.