GP and pharmacy vaccination sites are set to receive a cash injection of £20m to boost uptake of the Covid jab, NHS England has announced.
The funding will be used to increase staff capacity ‘over the next month’ to ‘double-down on efforts’ to roll out vaccinations, NHS England said.
It comes as those aged 25-29 became eligible for the jab on Tuesday this week, with a ‘record’ number of slots booked in 24 hours of more than a million first and second doses reserved on the ‘blockbuster’ day, it added.
NHS England said the £20m support for local vaccination services ‘can only be used on increasing staffing capacity over the next month and must be used where it is needed most to increase uptake and target health inequalities’.
It set out further details in a letter sent to practices today, which said:
- The funding covers the period 16 June – 14 July, although an ‘alternative arrangement’ can be agreed in advance ‘if that is not fully possible for logistical reasons’
- Funding will go to ICS/STPs who will reimburse lead employers for staff drawn down by GP and pharmacy-led sites
- Funding will be allocated ‘on the basis of site numbers’ to provide an average of seven additional staff (including some from the volunteer bank) for the four week period covering ‘a range of roles’
- It is contingent on sites administering all vaccines with a week of them being delivered, bringing forward phase one second doses in line with JCVI guidance and is only available to those delivering phase two jabs
- All services should ‘consider implementing’ the national protocol as the mechanism for delivering vaccines, which allows non-registered vaccinations with appropriate experience and training to deliver the jab under clinical supervision.
NHS England medical director of primary care Dr Nikki Kanani, said: ‘Our local GP and pharmacy sites have been an integral part of the vaccination programme, delivering around 75% of the jabs administered so far, and we are incredibly thankful for them going above and beyond to keep our families and communities protected from Covid-19.
‘This additional funding gives these essential local institutions, like general practices and pharmacies, the resources to bring more staff on board and help the country drive for the finish line as we enter the final stages of the vaccine rollout.’
Last month, an extra payment of £1,000 was announced for GP-led Covid vaccination sites to enable the rebooking of second jabs following the announcement that all risk group patients should now have them sooner.
NHS England reiterated today that local sites should do ‘everything they can’ to bring forward second dose appointments for the over-50s from 12 weeks to eight ‘where possible’.
It added that the NHS is ‘vaccinating at the rate supplies becomes available’, with more than half of adults now fully vaccinated with both doses.
Local GP and pharmacy-led Covid vaccination sites have delivered ‘around three-quarters of all jabs’, it said.
According to the latest Government data, almost 40.9 million people have so far received a first dose across the UK, while 28.8 million have received their second.