Primary care “all hands to the pump” for COVID vaccination programme

Preparation underway for COVID-19 vaccination roll-out

12th November 2020 about a 3 minute read

Local primary care leaders have until Tuesday November 17 to designate which GP practices in their area will be delivering the COVID-19 vaccination programme. 

A letter to GPs, general practice teams and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) from NHS England and NHS Improvement acknowledges that running the COVID-19 vaccination programme will require “all hands to the pump and pragmatism.”

Initially practices are asked to nominate a single site per Primary Care Network (PCN) which will deliver the vaccine. The number of sites will be expanded as more vaccine becomes available. 

Seven-day a week service

Designated sites will need to be able to deliver a vaccination service between 8am and 8pm seven days a week, including bank holidays, if vaccine supply allows.

Designated practices will need to deliver a minimum of 975 vaccinations a week, ensuring all vaccinations are administered within the appropriate shelf life. 

Providers are asked to plan on the assumption that two doses of the vaccine will be needed for each patient.

They are encouraged to maintain and develop local ways of “maximising joint working” between PCNs and their community partners.

Make every contact count

Staff are urged to “make every contact count,” for example when visiting housebound patients.

All staff involved in administering the vaccine will need to complete online training provided by Public Health England and Health Education England.

A national call-recall system will be set up. Practices are expected run their own call-recall process, alongside the national programme, to help maximise uptake.

Once patients are notified they are eligible for a vaccination, they can choose to book an appointment at a general practice designated site or use the National Booking Service to be vaccinated at another centre.

Specified criteria

The sites will need to meet specified criteria covering vaccine storage (doses must be stored at -70C) , site safety, workforce, patient experience, as well as handling, preparation, admin, aftercare data collection and reporting. 

The CCG will make a recommendation on which sites should be designated and the PCN will be informed of the outcome no later than Monday November 23.

Additional sites will be designated later in the vaccination process. 

Prioritising clinical activity

The letter states that practices are expected to remain fully open and accessible for all patients. But it adds: “We also recognise that the additional workload of a COVID-19 vaccination programme may require practices to prioritise clinical activity.”

The fee to GP practices will be £12.58 per vaccination, 25% more than they receive for an influenza vaccination (£10.06). The increased fee is to recognise the extra work around the COVID-19 vaccination, including training and the need for post-vaccine observation.

The stated ambition is to safely vaccinate the maximum number of patients in the minimum amount of time, across a range of vaccination centres, subject to vaccine supply.

A copy of the full letter is available here.