Almost 60% of GP partners taking part in the Covid vaccination programme want to administer the jabs from their own site but have not had the opportunity, a Pulse survey has found.
GPs currently provide Covid vaccines from designated primary care network (PCN) sites, but in January, NHS England said PCN groupings could move supply of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine around individual practices to ‘improve patient access or increase vaccination capacity’.
It looks certain there will be a booster campaign in the autumn, and many GPs said they would like to administer the vaccine from their own practice for this next stage of the programme.
In a Pulse survey carried out in May, 63% of 403 GP partners in England involved in the programme said their practice is not being used as a Covid vaccination site, while 15% stated theirs is the designated site for their PCN grouping, and 22% answered their practice is one of a few in the PCN administering jabs.
Of those who said their practice is not being used as a vaccination site, six in 10 (58%) said they would like it to be, 28% said they would not and 13% stated they were unsure.
But many of the GP partners who said they want their practice to administer Covid vaccines said they experienced hurdles in being allowed to do so.
A quarter (25%) of the 147 partners who gave a reason said their CCG had discouraged this, while another 27% said their PCN grouping or grouping lead had done the same. Meanwhile, 15% said their practice simply doesn’t fit the criteria and a third (33%) gave other reasons.
The survey of GP partners also found that 5% of practices that were taking part in phase 1 of the Covid vaccination programme opted out of phase 2 because they were unable to administer the jabs themselves.
Manchester GP partner Dr Ben Williams told Pulse: ‘Our practice is not being used as a Covid vaccination site, as in our area, it was decided that the requirements for Covid vaccination for individual practices were too onerous – 12 hour days, seven days per week.’
He said a local primary care provider has been administering Covid vaccines on behalf of the PCN, stating that ‘most GPs were happy with this arrangement’, but added it would have been ‘much better organised’ and would have provided some additional income for practices had the PCN carried out the vaccine programme instead.
He added: ‘We did give a small quantity of Covid vaccines at our practice to our patients and we would be happy to do this in the autumn either as a PCN or individual practice.’
Birmingham GP partner Dr Steve Brinksman told Pulse that his surgery is not delivering Covid vaccines because his PCN chose to use an external site ‘to enable normal day-to-day operations to be unhindered’ at practices, adding he is ‘reasonably happy’ with this.
‘But we need to look at the option of doing [Covid vaccinations] in house if we move to boosters later this year,’ he added.
Durham GP partner Dr Alex Barlow told Pulse that a different practice has been administering Covid jabs within his PCN, using the Pfizer vaccine, but said his practice has been able to deliver the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for its own patients, adding this is ‘better for us and patients prefer it’.
In May, the UK LMCs conference voted in favour of individual practices being contracted for future Covid vaccine direct enhanced services.
Health secretary Matt Hancock also previously said that he will investigate the possibility of Covid vaccinations being administered from individual GP practices.