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Pharmacies receive flu vaccinations ‘ahead of practices’, GPs claim

Some GPs have claimed pharmacies received flu vaccine deliveries before GP practices, while others have proposed a scrutiny of flu vaccination contracts, ahead of a meeting today.

An “early examination” of the different requirements set out in the respective GP and pharmacy flu service contracts was suggested in a motion put forward by Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland local medical committee (LMC) ahead of the virtual English LMC conference today (November 27).

English GPs will be asked to vote on this motion, which also argued that the general practitioners committee (GPC) should have negotiated a better pay for this year’s GP flu service and that the announcement of “flu vaccination for 50-64 year olds without a plan for the supply or delivery of this programme was either simple incompetence or a cynical political ploy”.

“Galling inequity”

Another motion submitted by Devon LMC, on which GPs will not be asked to vote, claims that community pharmacies received deliveries of the flu vaccine before GP practices.

“[…] conference remains frustrated that for yet another year, despite promises otherwise, community pharmacies have received their deliveries of flu immunisations ahead of practices.

“This inequity is particularly galling in a year in which we are asked to deliver more immunisations than ever before and so clear planning of expected patient numbers is required,” according to the motion.

Devon LMC asked the conference to “rectify” this issue before future flu seasons.

GPs also asked the GPC to comment on “the difference in funding levels and how, if at all, this is justified” when it comes to flu vaccination service contracts offered by different providers.

The motion, put forward by Rotherham LMC, will also not be voted on at the conference.

Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland LMC proposed that joint efforts continue to “remove competition with pharmacists and negotiate processes where the professions work with each other especially over the flu campaigns”.

C+D has approached all three LMCs for comment.

Deliveries dependent on commercial decisions

Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) CEO Leyla Hannbeck told C+D yesterday (November 26) that when a provider receives its flu vaccines is “purely” a commercial choice.

“There is no such thing as preferential treatment in this market. Among AIMp members, some have placed their order for 2021 flu vaccines in November to guarantee they receive stock on the first delivery dates of 2021.

"Others have still not ordered their vaccines for 2021, while they wait for further information on prices and NHS remuneration policy. They will therefore get their delivery after the AIMp members who have placed their orders early. GPs have the same commercial choices to make,” Ms Hannbeck said.

Some AIMp members feel “there are a number of areas” where there are differences between the flu contracts for pharmacies and GPs, with the contract for pharmacy being “less equal”, she added.

AIMp agrees that there should be “equality of terms with GPs” and the representative body “would welcome an investigation into this”, Ms Hannbeck said

A National Pharmacy Association spokesperson told C+D yesterday that “GPs naturally view the position from their own perspective” but that this year, in particular, all professionals need to join forces “in order to meet the nation’s healthcare needs”.

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) director of NHS services Alastair Buxton told C+D today that a “handful of concerns are raised with PSNC” every year when it comes to who receives the delivery of flu vaccines first.

“In reality, both professions are receiving their stock at around the same time, recognising that it is not possible for vaccines to be delivered to 17,000 pharmacies and practices all at the same time,” he said

“This year, more than ever, GPs and pharmacies should be working together to help provide the biggest ever flu vaccination programme,” Mr Buxton added.

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