By Ian Quinn
GPs have faced an extraordinary battle to agree local plans for vaccination of children under five against swine flu, with concessions on access made by PCTs repeatedly overruled by senior NHS managers.
One GP leader warned that acrimonious local talks had caused a lasting breakdown in trust, after the withdrawal of a series of deals offered to LMCs by PCTs.
The official Department of Health line was that it would be down to PCTs to draw up contractual arrangements with GPs on vaccination or find alternative providers, following the following the collapse of national talks with the GPC.
But trusts who have attempted to take into account the huge workload involved by offering concessions on access have been overruled by SHAs, which have in many cases enforced regional deals uncannily similar to the one the GPC rejected.
The GPC claims SHA managers, egged on by the Government, have used emotional blackmail to secure a vaccination campaign on the cheap.
GPs across Surrey, Sussex and parts of London had been told before Christmas by Surrey and Sussex LMCs they had secured a deal with six local PCTs.
Under its terms, GPs would, until 28 February, have been able to use up to 50% of time allocated to extended hours surgeries under LES agreements to vaccinate children instead, as well as receiving £5.25 per vaccination.
But Pulse has learned the deal has since been quashed, after both NHS London and NHS South East Coast intervened.
Nicola Ranger, pandemic flu resistance lead for NHS South East Coast, admitted the SHA had forced PCTs to tear up the original deal, saying: ‘We didn’t agree with the terms that had been struck.’
NHS London’s flu resilience director Daniel Elkeles claimed no practice in London would be given any significant concession.
He revealed Richmond, Kingston and Croydon PCTs, which Sussex and Surrey LMCs claimed had agreed to concessions over extended hours, would only be offering ‘minor modifications to suit their local circumstances’.
The intervention of SHAs has left GP leaders fuming.
Dr Dean Marshall, a GPC negotiator on pandemic flu, said he had been contacted by a string of LMCs accusing regional health managers of stamping on negotiated deals.
‘I’ve heard of PCT managers having been put under huge pressure from SHAs,’ he said. ‘This has clearly been directed from above.’
SHAs have overruled local agreements on funding swine flu vaccination for the under fives Deals on infant vaccines have mixed success
London Richmond, Croydon and Kingsotn PCTs pull plans for an enhanced vaccine deal with GPs after pressure from SHAs
NHS South East Coast SHA stamps on deal struck by Surrey and Sussex LMC for GPs to use up to 50% of extended hours for vaccinating under-fives
Birmingham The three PCTs agree for practices to use 50% of extended hours for under-fives vaccines and to postpone contract reviews until end of February
NHS South West LMC leaders agree a deal with the 14 PCTs across the region for GPs to deliver each vaccine for £5.25
NHS North East Strikes deal with all six LMCs in the region to deliver the vaccine to under-fives at £5.25 per vaccination