GPs have given Pulse mixed reactions to the new DES via which GP practices are expected to lead a massive Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
Dr Kieran Sharrock, Lincolnshire LMC medical director
‘The enhanced service isn’t ideal. It places constraints upon practices and PCNs but that’s probably as a result of the fact the vaccine has such fragile properties and has to be stored in very specific ways.
‘Practices and PCNs will find it very difficult to deliver but I do also think that it’s the right thing for us to try and deliver it because having local delivery rather than having to go to mass vaccination centres will be better for the patient.
‘But I’m not sure that the enhanced service is really the best way of that being done and CCGs and NHS England need to be very flexible with PCNs to allow them to do it in the best way for the patient.’
Dr Neena Jha, a salaried GP in Hertfordshire
‘We all welcome the fantastic news of a Covid vaccine and involving primary care teams with experience of delivering national vaccination programs is theoretically appropriate.
‘However, logistical issues will need careful consideration. Primary care is already stretched beyond capacity. It cannot be expected to take on this additional responsibility with fixed staff numbers without suspending other areas of work.’
Dr Richard Cook, a GP partner in West Sussex
‘It makes sense for primary care to be at the heart of the campaign. It will be a lot of work and organisation for practices even grouped together. We will absolutely want to deliver it, but must be mindful of our current workload and significant capacity issues in terms of workforce and exhaustion.’
Dr Rob Barnett, Liverpool LMC medical director
‘I think it would have been inconceivable that general practice wouldn’t have been involved – especially when it comes to vaccinating the elderly, the over 65s, those in care homes.
‘I do believe the way in which this has all evolved, however, is unfortunate – I think that the fact that most GPs heard about this through the media, as opposed to anything else, is just careless. I think that hearing on Radio 4 that GPs will be doing something when this hasn’t been agreed or discussed, again, is just total Government mismanagement.’
Dr Ankit Kant, a GP partner in Norfolk
‘This is more than just the cost per jab. It comes down to how we can continue to offer high-quality care to our patients with our current levels of unprecedented demands. I get the moral argument, but that goes both ways. Pause the unnecessary work (QOF etc) so that we can deliver this properly.
‘The amount of money on offer simply doesn’t add up and will undoubtedly cost practices to deliver. General Practice will need to continue to offer high quality care to our patients but this is already difficult with the current levels of demand.’
Dr Simon Hodes, a GP partner in Watford
‘What’s going to be dropped if we do this? GPs are open and we’ve been open throughout the whole pandemic, and actually I think GPs are the best-placed people to do this, because we’ve got all the knowledge of mass vaccination campaigns, we’ve got stuff in place, we’ve got the electronic medical records. And all of that is really important – the infrastructure is there.
‘NHS England has to realise that something has to give. We are beyond our capacity at the moment already – workload is higher than it was the same time a year ago.
‘Working remotely, as we are, is actually taking longer. We’re still being asked to do things like QOF.
‘All non-essential work should be postponed, which means QOF, CQC, appraisal.
‘There are two doses of the vaccine and they’re talking about the DES being given on the second vaccination, and actually that’s unfair, because we know there’ll be patients who won’t come back for the second vaccine.
‘So really the DES should be paid for the first vaccine.’
Dr Russell Brown, East Sussex LMC chair
‘There isn’t anybody else who’s going to be able to do this as reliably as we can. We need to be providing the service, but I’m not convinced that the DES is going to be adequate from a resourcing point of view to be able to do it reliably and safely.
‘There are some areas in the country where they spent extra money to set up mass flu clinics but a lot of areas didn’t. [And] the amount of work involved, given that it’s a new vaccine that is probably going to involve a lot more staff time to get it ready to actually stick in the patient, is going to make life difficult.
‘Then there’s this expectation of seven-day opening, I don’t think that’s factored into the cost. I don’t really want to be running it at a loss, though I’m not overly bothered about making money from it.
‘I’m on GPC for East and West Sussex and I’ve had quite a few constituents contact me concerned about what they’ve heard.
‘I am absolutely positive that we will try very hard to rise to the challenge, but I’m very worried that it’s going to be putting GP practices at risk of failing to provide the service because it’s not adequately resourced.’
GPs also reacted via Twitter:
Additional reporting by Eleanor Philpotts and Costanza Pearce