GPs will receive £1.50 for each at-risk child on their list that they identify and call in for vaccination under the MMR catch-up programme launched last week, NHS England has announced.
The service specification - agreed by the GPC and NHS Employers - was published this week and involves practices identifying all children aged 10 to16 years (born from 1997 to 2003) on their practice list who need at least one dose of MMR to fully protect them from measles, and then writing to their parents or guardians to offer them the vaccination.
In addition, practices will receive £7.64 for each dose of MMR given to any unvaccinated patients aged 16 and over who present to the GP surgery requesting vaccination.
The campaign is designed to boost MMR immunisation rates to above 95% in all 10 to 16 year olds before the new school year in September.
The letter from NHS England says: ‘Provision of vaccination to children aged 10-15 is included in the capitation payment (‘global sum’) of the GP contract, assuming the practice provides additional services, so no claim for reimbursement applies.
‘As the vaccine is centrally supplied, no claim for reimbursement of vaccines costs (personal administration fee) applies.’
Some GPs have already reported being inundated with calls from people wanting to get vaccinated, but it is anticipated that they will also have to put significant resources into the campaign to make it a success. Some practices in areas with historically low MMR uptake may need to vaccinate hundreds of patients, based on GPs’ experiences in Swansea.
In a letter accompanying the specification, NHS England director of commissioning (corporate) Ann Sutton wrote: ‘This is a key opportunity to show the resilience and responsiveness of the new structures to emerging public health needs and to work collaboratively with GP practices (recognising the other pressures on their time) to ensure successful delivery.’
A statement from NHS Employers said: ‘High uptake levels are envisaged as a result of the national campaign and in response to recent outbreaks across England and Wales. It is anticipated that all qualifying children and young adults will be vaccinated by 1 September 2013.
‘NHS England will develop a standard claim form for practices to use in claiming reimbursement for work carried out.’
GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman told Pulse the payment for contacting patients was fair. He said: ‘We think this pays for the cost of the labour, the envelope, the stamp and the piece of paper.
‘We’re talking about a duplicated letter and all you’ve got to do is stick the label on the envelope, fold the piece of paper and put a stamp on it. That is work - for which you’re going to get paid.’
Despite the publicity surrounding the Swansea measles outbreak, Dr Buckman was sceptical about how many patients GPs would be able to persuade to come and be vaccinated.
‘Where there’s very low uptake the chances are not many people are going to want to come and get it done. Even in this situation, I predict the number coming forward will be less than it should be.’
He continued: ‘GPs will write them a letter and see what the response is. If the response is modest then it will be easy, but if turns out very big - then clearly GPs will have to say to the local public health services, “actually we’re inundated, we can’t do it”.’