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GP practices forced to reverse patient cancellations as flu stock turns up after all

flu vaccine delays

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Some GP practices still received flu vaccine deliveries despite being told they would be cancelled by jab supplier Seqirus.

Stowhealth practice in Suffolk had told patients not to turn up to their walk-in clinic but had to reverse the communication.

Dr Hussain Ghandi, GP at Wellspring Surgery in Nottingham and clinical director of Nottingham City East PCN, said his practice was lucky to receive the delivery before they cancelled booked in patients.

Last week, GPs had to cancel hundreds of flu jab appointments due to vaccine delivery delays of ‘up to two weeks’.

In an email to GP practices sent on Friday 3 September, Seqirus, the UK’s biggest supplier of flu vaccines, said the delay was due to ‘unforeseen road freight challenges’.

The vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said last week in a House of Commons debate that issues with flu jab deliveries will not cause a delay to the overall flu vaccination programme ‘at all’.

Dr Ghandi said on Thursday 7 September: ‘Last most practices we got the email saying they would be delayed, but then bizarrely we got a notification yesterday that we were having a delivery and it turned up about two hours later. So we’ve had a delivery of a few hundred vaccinations with a couple of hours’ notice.’

He added: ‘My practice manager was literally in tears at the thought of having to cancel all these clinics and the workload.’

Wendy Denny, practice operations manager at Stowhealth practice in Suffolk, said: ‘When we did receive them in the end at about 5:30pm, we then had to let all of our patients know again that the clinic is back on… the turnaround was very short.’

Having already told patients there would be no walk-in clinic at the weekend, the practice put messaging on Twitter and via text to try and alert patients that the clinics were now back on.

‘We were trying to notify two and a half thousand over-65s via text,’ Ms Denny said.

She added: ‘We’re hoping that we’re going to have the footfall coming through for the clinics because we’ve got the staff set up to do these clinics. We’re hoping the message has got out there that they are still on.’

‘Because of the short notice, it’s difficult to manage because the patients have expectations. One minute you’re not getting it and the next minute you are.’

Ms Denny added: ‘With everything else going on with the shortage of blood bottles, the daily job is already really difficult.’

A Seqirus spokesperson told Pulse: ‘Last week, Seqirus informed affected GP practices and pharmacies in England and Wales of a one to two-week delay to their scheduled vaccine delivery to allow them to reschedule their influenza vaccination clinics. This week, vaccine supplies are beginning to flow out across England and Wales and some practices and pharmacies will be able to begin their vaccination campaigns.

‘Seqirus is working with suppliers to ensure that vaccine deliveries will continue to be confirmed a week in advance of dispatch.’

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