Vaccinations and Immunisations - Community Pharmacy Influenza Immunisation Scheme
The community pharmacy influenza immunisation scheme was negotiated late in the summer of 2015 between NHS England and the National Pharmaceutical Negotiating Committee.
It permits eligible community pharmacists to offer NHS flu immunisation to the public under the same eligibility criteria as in the General Practitioners’ Influenza Direct Enhanced Service, based on the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations within the annual ‘flu letter’.
Community pharmacists have to offer appropriate facilities, check eligibility and communicate with a patient’s GP that the patient has been immunised so their medical records can be updated.
A similar programme has been operating in London for some years, during which time the absolute percentage of the population immunised via the community pharmacist was small (around 5%) and the total proportion of the population across London who were immunised did not increase  however, there were few significant clinical incidents and the offer of immunisations from community pharmacists was positively supported by the public, even if they did not take up this option.
The LMC is conscious of the feeling amongst constituents that the situation does not represents a “level playing field”, given the enhanced fee that community pharmacists are currently receiving, the fact that the GP fee covers call and recall administrative tasks that community pharmacists do not have to provide and that there is, currently, no requirement for community pharmacists to be CQC registered, with the associated costs both financially and in terms of staff time that this entails.  However, it is important for GPs to acknowledge that none of these concerns are the consequence of decisions by local LPCs or individual community pharmacists.  These are central issues and all have been raised nationally.
GPs and community pharmacists are equally at liberty to advertise and promote their immunisation services, but both the LPC and LMC would urge colleagues that, when doing so, they do not express this in ways that undermine the other’s professionalism  thus community pharmacists implying that GP practices are ‘too busy’ to deliver an immunisation service, or that by attending a community pharmacy the public ‘reduces the workload’ at GP practices is unacceptable.  Equally, GPs should not indicate, or imply, they will treat community pharmacists differently in any way if they decide not to deliver the NHS flu immunisation scheme or, instead, direct patients to their GP practice for this service.  Community pharmacists are not permitted to tie the NHS flu immunisation scheme with any other offer of service.
Community pharmacists should not, in the LMC’s view, create work for GP colleagues whilst delivering their service  thus, if there is doubt about a patient’s eligibility, practices are not expected to assist with such queries.
Information about immunisations should be passed promptly and accurately to the patient’s practice.  Equally, practices should monitor these communications.
Letter to practices re Community Pharmacy Scheme (SSLMCs August 2017)
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Updated on 20 September 2017