GPs should have no involvement in any proposed Covid-19 ‘vaccine passport’ scheme, the RCGP has warned.
In evidence submitted to the Government’s review on Covid-19 vaccination certificates, the College said while they had no objection in principle, the fine detail of how it would be implemented would be critical.
Any introduction of Covid-19 vaccine passports must have ‘zero impact’ on GP workload, the RCGP said.
Involving practice teams in delivering certification would risk burying GPs in ‘cumbersome’ red tape, exacerbating their already ‘worryingly high’ workload and diverting valuable time away from patients, it added.
The RCGP also called on the review – which has now closed – to consider the impact of health inequalities on the use of vaccine passports around access services and venues within the UK, particularly given the lower-than-average rates of vaccine uptake amongst some BAME communities and lower income groups.
Should vaccine passports be given the green light, they must be easily accessible to everyone so that some groups were not disadvantaged, their submission said.
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the RCGP, said: ‘GPs and our teams are currently working incredibly hard delivering the Covid-19 vaccination programme alongside the usual care and services our patients rely on.
‘Whilst the College is not necessarily opposed to the introduction of some sort of opt-in proof of vaccination document to allow for international travel, it must not become the role of GPs and our teams to issue these.
‘It would not be sensible for GPs, or any other members of the practice team, to spend their time on cumbersome red tape that will take them away from patient care.’
He said their concern about introducing certification for domestic use is that it risks negatively impacting on some patient groups more than others and widening existing inequalities.
‘At the very least we would want to see a robust and accessible alternative to vaccination status certificates to ensure groups with lower than average vaccine uptake rates are not unduly disadvantaged.
Should a scheme be introduced, use of the NHS App seems sensible as long as appropriate safeguards are in place to data protection, he added.
‘Alternative proof of vaccination must be available for those who don’t have smartphones or are simply less tech-savvy – and consideration must also be given to patients who have been unable to have a vaccination.’
The news comes as NHS England has this week urged remaining eligible patients in target groups 1-9 to come forward for their Covid vaccination.
And NHS England said today that 85% of 50-55s have now been vaccinated in England, while over 3 million patients have had second doses.