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Exclusive Around 999 PCNs have signed up to deliver the Covid vaccine during the 2023/24 winter season, down only marginally on last year, Pulse PCN understands.
Last year, 1,042 of the approximate 1,250 PCNs – or 83.3% – signed on to deliver the Covid vaccine enhanced service.
The slight drop to 80% comes despite confusion surrounding payments per vaccination and what the BMA named a ‘u-turn’ on the start date, prompting the doctor’s union to call for an investigation into the Government and NHS England’s ‘mismanagement’ of the programme.
In August, NHS England had said flu and Covid vaccine programmes would begin in October this year rather than the standard September start date.
But the Government then announced vaccination would begin on 11 September, following the identification of a new Covid variant, with GPs urged to vaccinate ‘as many people as possible’ by the end of October.
The Government had also announced in August it would cut the fee GPs are paid per Covid vaccination by a quarter, from £10.06 to £7.54.
However, to support the ‘acceleration’ for Covid vaccines, NHS England then confirmed that GPs would be paid an additional £5 per dose, an extra £10 for care homes and a £200 completion payment per home: but that eligibility would expire by the end of October.
NHS England said the BMA’s claims of a ‘u-turn’ were ‘totally inaccurate and irresponsible’.
Commenting on the developments Dr Geetha Chandrasekaran, clinical director, North Halifax PCN, West Yorkshire: ‘Clinically I understand the need for acceleration, but it must also take into consideration the people on the ground who deliver the programme and the capability to do so without breaking themselves or the system. Decisions made did not seem to really follow any of these parameters and the CVP team at NHSE lack insight into the practical delivery of the programme.’
When the programmes booted up in September, vaccination hubs and practices were left to ‘rally’ around to secure staff, with nursing leaders stating the changes had created a last-minute strain on resources.
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