Primary care networks (PCNs) will no longer be provided with some of the equipment they need to deliver Covid vaccinations during the booster programme this autumn, NHS England has said.
Items including handwash, waste bags and sharps bins will instead have to be purchased by GP-led vaccination sites themselves, it added.
While these ‘non-vaccine related consumables’ will no longer be given for free, NHS England said it will continue to supply ‘linked vaccine consumables to all sites’ – such as syringes – during the booster programme.
‘We expect that PPE will continue to be available for practices to draw down through the DHSC portal,’ NHS England added in an FAQ document on the Covid-19 vaccination it promoted at the end of last week.
GP leaders said all additional Covid-related costs should ‘continue to be covered or fully reimbursed’ by the Government and NHS England, ‘and not by GPs or practices themselves’.
NHS England said that to set up the vaccination programme quickly it initially ‘took measures to mitigate any product availability constraints in the open market’ by creating a central stock.
But as the Covid 19 vaccination programme begins to make longer-term plans, ‘steps are being taken to remove this shadow supply chain and manage consumable supplies through day-to-day business operations’, it added.
It noted that as supply constraints have eased this has also allowed ‘local level decision-making to resume and service the needs of the local operations’.
NHS England does not provide national supplies of non-vaccine related consumables for other vaccination and immunisation services, it said.
The FAQ document said: ‘We will supply a nationally-agreed initial supply inventory list (SIL) of equipment that will be required on a site-by-site basis to allow any new PCN-led vaccination sites to commence and operate.
‘We will continue to centrally supply linked vaccine consumables to all sites in phase 3 (eg, syringes etc), but providers will need to purchase non-vaccine linked consumables eg, handwash, waste bags, sharps bins and so on, as they would normally do for other vaccination programmes. We expect that PPE will continue to be available for practices to draw down through the DHSC portal.’
BMA GP Committee chair for England Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It is important that all additional costs associated with Covid continue to be covered or fully reimbursed by the Government and NHS England, and not by GPs or practices themselves.
‘Any additional costs must be built into the commissioning of the service and it is vital that the booster programme enhanced service has the appropriate funding to cover all the costs associated with the delivery of that service.’
GP practices were asked to sign up to the third phase of the Covid vaccination programme by 28 July in a letter sent by NHS England last month that said it would not be ‘operationally feasible’ for jabs to be given at an individual practice level.
A recent survey by Pulse – in conjunction with Pulse Intelligence – found many GP practices either broke even or made a financial loss by taking part in the first phase of the vaccination scheme.