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How do I run a successful flu clinic?

With flu season approaching, GPs should start preparing for vaccinating as many people as possible to reach their targets whilst maximising income for their practice.

One good way of making the most of the flu vaccination service this season is running a successful flu clinic. Many practices run Saturday morning clinics where depending on the size of the practice, hundreds or even thousands of patients can be vaccinated in one go. Clinics are popular with patients and staff who approach it as a light interlude breaking from the normal day-to-day stress with what is bordering on a social event.

Here are some tips on how to make these flu clinics a success:

1. Book patients at one- or two-minute intervals.

2. Book patients en masse rather than with individual clinicians, as a ‘next-please’ approach ensures DNAs do not leave gaps.

3. Use every clinician and clinical room available.

4. If you have a big enough meeting room or waiting room, set up tables and chairs around the edge and vaccinate multiple patients at the same time.

5. Don’t turn the computers on in the clinical rooms. This gives an excuse for not dealing with the ‘while I am here’ opportunists.

6. Nurses can vaccinate using patient group directives. This allows a group of patients with shared characteristics to be immunised. Healthcare assistants must operate from patient-specific directives (PSD) whereby the patient must be named by the GP. It is possible to print the entire clinic list onto a PSD to save complications.

7. Preserve the cold chain. Nominate a runner to collect vaccine from the fridge to ensure clinicians are not over-supplied and the cold chain broken.

8. Record vaccinations on simple proforma slips, which can be collected in batches and entered onto practice systems by back room staff as the clinic is going on.

9. Put a confident member of the admin team in the waiting room to gently, but firmly, direct the flow of patients.

10. Have a system for quickly booking patients in. For example, several staff on the desk to handle different sections of the alphabet, with clear signs (names from A-G).

11. Consider putting someone in a high-visibility jacket in the car park (if you are lucky enough to have one) to keep the cars flowing in and out sensibly.

12. Pay the staff overtime. They are worth it. This is a good money spinner and they will want to do it again next year.

13. Factor in a team tea break and send someone out for bacon rolls or bring cakes and biscuits. This is a great opportunity for team building.

14. Think about participating yourself; doctors participating in the flu clinics earn the respect of their staff and demonstrate good leadership.

Dr John Allingham is medical secretary at Kent LMC

Get more tips on how to make the most of the flu vaccination service and one CPD hour on Pulse Learning. This module will be available free to all members of Pulse Learning until 16 August 2016