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Last-minute cut to Covid jab fee in Wales

Last-minute cut to Covid jab fee in Wales

GP practices in Wales have seen a last-minute reduction to their fee for administering Covid-19 vaccines from £12.58 to £10.03 – and a removal of bonus payments.

But in spite of the 20% reduction in payment, they will receive more than GPs in England who are getting £7.58 – a cut of 25% from last year.

With the vaccination campaign in Wales due to start on 11 September, the BMA’s GPC Wales described the timing of the Government’s announcement as ‘ill-conceived and short-sighted’.

A letter from the Welsh Government dated 18 August said that the Item of Service (IoS) fee would be reduced to £10.03 ‘in line with the standard IoS fee for other vaccines in Wales’ and that ‘the bonus payment would be removed’. Last year this was worth an additional £400 per 1,000 vaccines administered.

The letter said that ‘an extremely difficult financial situation’, which it described as ‘the toughest faced since devolution’ had forced ‘some very difficult decisions across all areas of spending, including the upcoming vaccination programme’.

It added that health boards would engage directly with providers to finalise delivery plans and acknowledged that the timetable meant ‘urgent conversations will now be required’.

A GPC Wales spokesperson said: ‘With only four weeks’ notice until the expected first deliveries of vaccines to practices and plans for clinic delivery well underway, we consider this announcement ill-conceived and short-sighted.’

GPC Wales has advised that each practice should review its agreement with its health board and, in doing so, ‘consider the impact on the profitability of its planned delivery programme’.  Surgeries can opt not to offer the service, it said.

‘As the terms of the contractual arrangement have been unilaterally altered, there is nothing to disbar practices from informing health boards, at this stage, of a change in their intent to provide the service at this reduced payment level.

‘Ultimately, the health board will be responsible for delivering the vaccination through their own mass vaccination centres,’ said the spokesperson.

Last year, a number of GP practices in Wales opted out of delivering Covid vaccinations because of logistical difficulties such as being unable to co-administer the booster with flu vaccinations, the use of a different system for booking booster and flu appointments, as well as a short deadline to start giving boosters.

This year, practices can co-administer Covid and flu jabs and use their own clinical systems for scheduling appointments, but they must still comply with the mandatory requirement to record vaccinations given on the Welsh Immunisation System (WIS).

One practice manager of a surgery based in South Wales said they were still undecided about whether or not to sign up to the Covid programme, partly because there is a concern take up will be low.

They also explained that flu clinics had already been organised so separate invites would now be required for the Covid programme. In addition, mandatory recording on WIS means the practice would have to run dual systems to record flu and Covid vaccinations.

‘There’s a reduction in the IOS payment for more work,’ the practice manager said. ‘The timing and communication has been very poor and the Welsh Governments announcement to reduce the IOS payment at such short notice is ill-judged.’

A version of this story was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Jarvis 30 August, 2023 12:27 pm

Anybody tempted to prescribe more expensive drugs or increase referrals because you can’t be too careful. Or cut the number of appts offered by 25%? Or just opt to not do the unprofitable work?

David Jenner 30 August, 2023 3:02 pm

Watch this space , it may be about to go up again !

David Church 30 August, 2023 5:47 pm

Are we talking about an obsolete covid vaccine left over from last year, which would be almost completely pointless, or a new one to cover the new variants, which might be desireable, but is now unlikley to have significnat uptake from a population put off by the uncertaintees ?