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The vaccine is life-changing – so why doesn’t the cost reflect this?


Jaimie Kaffash


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 editor@pulsetoday.co.uk

READERS' COMMENTS [7]

Graham Moyse 2 December, 2020 9:03 pm

I have spent most of my 30 years as a GP lobbying to be reimbursed for what we do at a rate that reflects our training and expertise. Now however is not the time and circumstances to be making a stand over finances. It is possible to deliver the service and make a profit, albeit a small one that does not reflect our true worth and experience. The time has come to accept that we need to do our bit for the greater good. If we don’t, the media and the public will crucify us. It will take decades to recover the damage. So let’s get on with it!

Patrufini Duffy 2 December, 2020 11:05 pm

Yes, GP teams, not all, will vaccinate. That’s 100% certain. Great, we played our dismissive part as usual. We always do. But, after 30 years Mr Moyse is still scared of the public and a crucifying. That’s unfortunate. And quite telling of regression and an indoctrinated, endemic fear. Akin to the fear that lead 98% to sign up to a PCN-DES without reading the dossier. Finances are important, when you set-up infrastructure. And you have self-worth and play with risk. Amazon, Tesla, Google and NHSE must laugh at some free activities and over-time displayed by GP “altruism”. And when you see consistent third party private contractors with multi-million pound back handers why can a GP not be renumerated? 40% is taxed, not to an offshore bank account. Unhappiness, distaste and regret is the reason why the profession still stirs unease, unrest and agitated anxiety. It’s been an arduous few years. Do not think that vaccinating the public will clear turbid waters.

Vinci Ho 3 December, 2020 9:06 am

I fully respect the comments from both ends of the argument about finances . Every matter has its advantages and disadvantages, whether we like it or not .
(1) Is the funding enough for GP’s involvement in this Covid vaccination programme (CVP) ? No.
(2) Should we go ahead ? Yes only for conditions satisfied. I prefer to see this as a ‘mission’ rather than a service against a backdrop of a historic moment . It this does not take away the incompetence and calamity of the government/NHSE providing enough ‘tools’ ( money as part of it) to GPs to accomplish this ‘mission’. The logistics remain an outstanding issue . We should push back any unrealistic expectations from the technocrats .
(3) Do we trust the government? Of course not . Would I still engage at this historic moment ( merely because of the professional code I serve )? My answer is yes .
As I wrote before , I believe history will give both us(GPs) and the government a ‘fair’ judgement.
Call me naive , by all means ……..

Kosta MANIS 3 December, 2020 1:52 pm

It is always enjoyable to witness a debate, especially one between people who know how to use the pen so effectively.
In my case, there is nothing but a great relief that at last there is light at the end of the tunnel and some hope that we will be out of the pandemic misery.
As for vaccines, I feel that AstraZeneca is by far the most GP friendly. It scores well on safety, has the most doses available early, the easiest to ship and store and it is the cheapest (and, No, I do not have any shares in this or the others).
But, please Jaimie, can we just get on with it and find some normality again as my patients and I are at the end of our tether.

Dr N 3 December, 2020 4:37 pm

I dont know why nobody else uses this model of payment?

You employ staff to sell an item at a fixed price to an unknown group of people and an unknown number and even when you are in competition to sell the item with the supplier.

Should work fine……………….

Maria Carrasco 3 December, 2020 10:43 pm

Well said P Duffy! I completely agree. I could go on but suffice it to say I am a single hander who will not be signing up to the extended service as I just do not have the capacity to deliver that service on top of what I am contractually obliged to provide- regardless of how much I might be paid for it.
And I’m afraid my goodwill is well and truly depleted!

Christopher Ho 4 December, 2020 12:17 pm

Dr Moyes – “The time has come to accept that we need to do our bit for the greater good. If we don’t, the media and the public will crucify us.” We do our bit for the greater good all the time. If we’re unappreciated though, we will leave. And when we are gone, the public can decide whether to appreciate us then, or make do with what it is left with.