GPs have been told not to waste more than 5% of Covid vaccines provided to them, but it remains unclear whether there will be any penalties attached.
NHS England’s service specification for Covid vaccine delivery states that GPs must ensure wastage of stock ‘certainly does not exceed 5% of the total number of vaccines supplied’.
It added that NHS England will review wastage levels ‘on an ongoing basis’, but stopped short of outlining whether practices will be penalised for any wastage.
When Pulse asked what will happen if wastage is more than 5%, a spokesperson for NHS England said that there would be discussions locally to resolve this in the first instance.
They have not responded to Pulse’s request for clarification.
The service specification, published earlier this week, said: ‘Appropriate procedures must be in place to ensure stock rotation, monitoring of expiry dates and appropriate use of multi-dose vials to ensure that wastage is minimised and certainly does not exceed 5% of the total number of vaccines supplied.
‘Wastage levels will be reviewed by the commissioner (NHSE) on an ongoing basis.’
If wastage exceeds 5% of stock supplied but is ‘as a result of supply chain or commissioner (NHSE) fault’, those vaccines will be ‘removed from any wastage calculations’ reviewed by NHS England, it added.
Meanwhile, the document added that practices must ‘proactively’ invite patients for vaccinations to ‘support high uptake of vaccinations and minimise vaccine wastage’.
This may include ‘additional contacts over and above the call/re-call requirements… where appropriate’, it said
Practices are not required to offer call/recall to care home residents and health and social care workers, but ‘may wish to’ if these patients are ‘easily identifiable’, the guidance added.
NHS England added that practices can also vaccinate patients outside of approved cohorts in exceptional circumstances demonstrating that stock would ‘otherwise have been wasted’.
The service specification said: ‘GP practices must deliver the vaccinations to patients within the cohorts, in the order of the cohorts listed. The commissioner (NHSE) will announce the authorisation of cohorts for vaccination.
‘[However,] vaccination will be permitted to patients outside of the announced cohort where the GP practice can demonstrate exceptional circumstances, that it is clinically appropriate and where resources would otherwise have been wasted.’
The document reiterated that practices signed up to offer Covid vaccinations must ensure they can deliver the service 8am-8pm seven days a week, including bank holidays, if necessary to ‘reduce waste’.
It said: ‘The commissioner (NHSE) will inform practices where this is required, based on the need to maximise vaccinations when the supply of vaccine is available to reduce waste and in support of the mass vaccination of the population.’
Meanwhile, GPs were this week told that there are currently ‘no plans’ to ask GP practices to open for routine services over the Christmas and New Year bank holidays.
It comes as around 50 hospital hubs will begin administering Covid vaccinations to care home staff and the over-80s next week as part of a ‘phased’ rollout.
And Pulse revealed that PHE is set to update its guidance to reflect new advice that over-16s with underlying health conditions should be vaccinated against Covid-19.