Exclusive Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has urged GPs to ‘maintain momentum’ on the Covid vaccination campaign despite the ‘enormous pressures’ practices are facing.
It comes as NHS England has announced that GP and pharmacy vaccination sites are set to receive a cash injection of £20m to boost uptake of the Covid jab.
In an exclusive opinion piece for Pulse, Mr Zahawi praised the efforts of healthcare workers who have made ‘unforgettable sacrifices’ and ‘moved mountains’ to vaccinate the country against Covid.
He said: ‘A large and integral part of this workforce has been those working in primary care – from GPs, nurses and pharmacists, to receptionists, administrative staff and volunteers – every person has played a crucial role in this achievement.
‘We would not be where we are today – with over 14,000 lives saved and 42,000 hospitalisations prevented – without their contributions to the cause, delivering an exceptional 75% of all vaccines.’
Mr Zahawi added his thanks for primary care staff’s ‘tireless dedication and commitment’ in the face of ‘enormous pressure’ but stressed the importance of keeping up ‘momentum’ with the delivery of Covid jabs.
He said: ‘We recognise the vaccination programme has placed GPs and primary care under enormous pressure, especially with more and more patients wanting to see their GPs for other conditions.
‘[But] we must do everything we can to maintain the impressive momentum, while ensuring our primary care providers can balance the growing demand.’
Mr Zahawi reiterated that the new £20m funding will support an extra seven members of staff on average for each PCN and that vaccination sites will now be given earlier notice of vaccine supply.
NHS England has also asked CCGs to ‘minimise any burden’ on GP practices from services they commission that aren’t focused on Covid or ‘recovery’, as part of measures to support the vaccination programme.
Meanwhile, the BMA met with the health secretary to discuss the current GP crisis last month, after an emergency motion stipulated it should demand an ‘urgent meeting’.