Michael Holden, the former chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association who is working with an independent pharmacist to deliver Covid vaccines in Hampshire, has revealed that local health leaders and surgeries in the county told patients to go to GP practices and primary care network-run sites outside their area to get vaccinated.
Holden, the associate director of Pharmacy Complete, is working with David Parker, the owner of Church Crookham Pharmacy in Fleet, to vaccinate people from a hub. They start vaccinating tomorrow at the Church Crookham Memorial Hall.
Holden said they can deliver as many as 3,000 vaccines a week but are restricted to 1,200 because of supply limitations and what he described as “some PCN/surgery shenanigans.”
When asked to expand on that, he said North East Hampshire and Farnham clinical commissioning group and local surgeries told patients who belong to surgeries in the area to go outside their PCN locality to get vaccinated. The government recently pledged to ensure everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site.
Holden told Independent Community Pharmacist that North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG at one point “directed patients from all but one surgery to other PCN sites” but insisted they had “changed their message” after concerns had been raised with them and is now directing people to vaccination sites within Hampshire.
North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG told ICP it has put local arrangements in place for patients registered with a GP practice in Fleet.
Holden also said four GP practices within Fleet PCN did not apply for a designated site due to "a combination of unsuitable facilities, will, organisation and funding" and is “now feeling the pressure” from the local population and local council.
“The issue with the CCG/PCN/surgeries is more about their communications to patients which are suggesting that patients from surgeries in the PCN area the hub serves should go to other GP practice/PCN-run sites outside the PCN area,” Holden said.
He insisted Parker had “done his best to show willingness to collaborate” but that had not been “reciprocated” and insisted their decision to bid to open a vaccination hub came about “because the local PCN didn't step up.” ICP contacted Fleet PCN but did not get a response.
Suggesting this is happening in other areas of the country, Holden said: “From what I've heard on newsfeeds yes, whether they be GP or pharmacy-led hubs. We will be using the AstraZeneca vaccine and the pipe is only so big to feed an expanding number of mass centres and local sites. The logistics on this is massive.”
Holden, who said he was not involved in Parker's contract negotiations to deliver vaccines and is “just supporting implementation,” said issues around vaccine supplies will give them “a resource planning challenge for the weeks ahead.”
“We have around 11 vaccinators, pharmacists and nurses, and 100 helpers to provide stewarding, reception, admin and general helping duties waiting for the nod to do a shift. We have the capacity to run seven days a week and just need the vaccines and patients to match that capacity,” he said.
“I am also building a small dedicated website for factual information for the people accessing the service as there is so much misinformation about it on social media.”