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NHSE’s climbdown on flu jabs puts pharmacies in difficult position


NHSE’s climbdown on flu jabs puts pharmacies in difficult position

By Neil Trainis

The National Pharmacy Association chair Nick Kaye has warned NHS England’s decision to allow pharmacies to provide flu vaccines that have already been booked next month could strain their relationship with GP practices and leave pharmacists in the difficult position of telling other patients they can’t offer them a vaccination until October.

Kaye, a pharmacist based in Newquay and regular columnist for Independent Community Pharmacist who writes in a personal capacity, said NHSE’s compromise allowing pre-booked appointments to go ahead in September has created “a peculiar middle ground” that may end up “exerting further pressure on relations between general practices and community pharmacies,” as some practices could feel aggrieved that they have to wait until October to deliver vaccines while pharmacies are allowed to press ahead with bookings from September 1.

“This pertains particularly to services that, at this time of year, remain a source of tension within primary care. Under heightened pressure, those who feel aggrieved tend to clamour for more stringent rule enforcement in an effort to curb perceived unfairness,” Kaye told ICP.

Consequently, cries of 'foul play' or 'unfair treatment' become inevitable, as the perception of being unfairly treated gains traction.”

Insisting NHSE's "sudden decision to commence the service in early October instead of September has introduced an overwhelming wave of confusion," Kaye said bewilderment "stemming from this situation” could filter down to patients who don’t have an existing booking and will have to be turned away by pharmacies next month.

“The question will arise ‘why did some receive flu shots while others did not?’ Justifications like ‘they booked it in August’ may well surface, accompanied by sentiments of injustice. Defending this decision becomes a daunting task for frontline healthcare providers,” Kaye said.

“The notion that the decision-making process lacked input from those directly involved exacerbates the perception of unfairness, adding to the complexity of rule enforcement.”

NHSE’s partial climbdown on its decision to delay the flu vaccination service by a month until October was welcomed by Community Pharmacy England who said it “will have huge operational benefits for pharmacy businesses.”

CPE’s director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said the negotiator was “delighted and relieved” that “common sense” prevailed even though patients without a booking will have to wait until October 7 to get a vaccination. Care home residents and staff will be eligible for a jab from October 2.


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