First, let’s get this straight: the announcement around the Covid vaccination today is great news. We can’t foresee how successful it will be in the long run, but the effort to get where we are is incredible.
But that shouldn’t stop us from criticising elements that don’t look right. And one is the funding for GP to administer this vaccine
The English LMC conference make this clear when they called upon the BMA to renegotiate the enhanced service. And they were entirely correct to do so. Just because this has to be done (as I’ve argued) it doesn’t mean that GPs should be exploited.
Despite NHS England publishing the specifications for the service last night, there are still plenty of unanswered questions – and GPs are expected to sign up to this in the next five days. They already expect to lose money. They will be expected to administer the vaccine for just a little more than they receive for flu vaccinations – for which they have long established processes. With the protocols for the Covid vaccines seemingly changing every day, the cost to keep up with these changes will far exceed the costs of administering flu vaccinations.
Of course, I understand the need for speed. But having seen how much money the government has been throwing at, for example, the test and trace service, it seems bizarre that they are willing to scrimp on such an important element of defeating Covid.
Because PCN groupings – and more importantly, the GPs operating within them – simply won’t be able to carry out this programme without decent resourcing. And if the BMA is unable to renegotiate, I fear GPs will end up voting with their feet.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org