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NHS in London renews pharmacy flu vaccination scheme



NHS England is recommissioning the pharmacy-run flu vaccination scheme again in London, despite concerns the scheme has not improved uptake and led to increased workloads for GP practices, Pulse has learnt.

Pharmacy London – representing community pharmacists – said NHS England London Region will be recommissioning the pharmacy vaccination service again, for both seasonal influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations in ‘at-risk’ groups.

Pharmacy London chief executive Rekha Shah told Pulse she was ‘pleased at this early confirmation’ of renewal of the scheme, which ‘means pharmacies can start planning for the coming season’ and also ‘helps our general practice colleagues with their planning’.

It comes after an evaluation of the London scheme recently published in the journal BMJ Open found it had failed to improve uptake of the vaccinations in at-risk groups, led to duplication of record keeping and data going missing.

However, Ms Shah said that, contrary to the study’s conclusions, the pharmacy scheme had ‘potentially actually helped to prevent the drop in uptake that was seen nationally’ last year, which was due to ‘the milder weather [and] the impact from the adverse publicity regarding vaccine efficacy the year before’.

She added: ’At the London level, planning can start early regarding improvements to communication and reporting of vaccinations. Therefore an early decision can only be helpful for all concerned.’

NHS England declined to comment but said it would be announcing arrangements for the national flu vaccination scheme ‘in the coming weeks’.