GP-led Covid vaccination sites that have been ‘paused’ will be expected to restart delivering vaccines ‘within 5-10 days’ if reactivated, NHS England has said.
However, it also said that it will take around five working days to reinstate access to necessary IT and around 10 working days to resume fixed vaccine deliveries.
New NHS England guidance published this week reiterated that while the Covid vaccination enhanced service has been extended until 30 September, PCN sites may be asked to ‘pause’ delivery in certain circumstances.
These include if there is ‘likely to be unacceptable vaccine wastage, there is insufficient patient demand to retain the site as active, or where the site does not represent value for money’.
The document added that ‘paused’ sites ‘will be expected to stand up at pace (within 5–10 days) when required, with the agreement of the local commissioner’.
But it also said: ‘It will take c.5 working days from the date a site reactivation is approved to reinstate access to relevant tech and data accounts and manage IT installation; and c.10 working days to get a site back on the fixed delivery schedule.’
NHS England said ‘reactivation’ should follow ‘both site and local commissioner agreement’ and take into consideration:
- Current uptake and remaining unvaccinated cohorts vs capacity of active sites/potential to increase their capacity
- Site location/premises readiness (considering access and inequalities)
- Workforce availability
- Access to relevant tech and data systems
- Access to necessary standard inventory and non-clinical IT kit
- Ability of site to deliver alongside ‘business as usual’ service provision
- Vaccine allocation and vaccine wastage impacts
It added that PCNs and commissioners should ‘mutually agree which sites will pause’, with commissioners considering ‘representations’ from PCNs on ‘why sites should continue to operate’.
NHS England will make the final decision ‘where there is a dispute and all possible options have been exhausted’, it said.
From this month until September, all vaccination sites will either be ‘active’ and continuing to vaccinate even at low levels of activity, ‘closed’ fully with contracts terminated along with any linked pop-up or satellite sites, or ‘paused’.
NHS England set out that ‘paused’ sites:
- Are those ‘stopping vaccinating in the short term but wishing to remain in the programme to support a surge scenario or pending a decision on longer-term participation’
- Must not administer any vaccines ‘in any circumstances’ unless reactivated by the commissioner and any leftover vaccine must be transferred to another site
- GP-led sites should only be paused rather than closed if they are in NHS or public sector premises, unless ‘exceptional circumstances apply or in the interests of value for money’
- If they wish to pause but are in non-NHS estate, they should move to an NHS site if ‘appropriate for the local population’.
‘Active’ sites could still be paused or closed ‘to meet system needs’, while paused sites ‘are not guaranteed of inclusion in the programme post September’, it added.
NHS England told GPs in March that PCN Covid vaccination sites will be able to continue delivering jabs until September if they have ‘sufficient capacity’ and deliver ‘value for money’, but that some may be paused.
It had previously indicated that the enhanced service was expected to be extended until September – as long as delivery did not impact on ‘core’ GP services – but that it ‘anticipated’ some PCN sites would deliver ‘significantly fewer’ jabs or ‘hibernate’.