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LPCs prepared for delays to national flu scheme

Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire chief executive Robbie Turner says the new advanced service could miss its September launch date because of unanswered "operational questions"

EXCLUSIVE

Local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) are concerned that the national flu service could begin a month later than planned.

The service – announced as part of the 2015-16 funding settlement – could be delayed until October by unresolved “operational questions” about how pharmacists will record vaccinations and transfer information to GPs, said Robbie Turner, chief executive of LPC consortium Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire (CPWY).

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said last month that it expects the service to commence at the start of September, and the negotiator told C+D on Monday (August 10) that NHS England, NHS Employers and itself are still aiming for a September launch date.

Mr Turner said he is aware the organisations involved are “working really hard to get it to launch at the beginning of the [flu] season”, but the “national conversations” around services are “sometimes hard to sort out”.

“It could be delayed until the beginning of October, and in the worst case the beginning of November,” he told C+D last week (August 7).

Local contingency plans

Because of the risk of delays, CPWY’s NHS England regional team has agreed to commission a local flu service from September 1 until the national service comes into force, Mr Turner said. This will rely on vaccines being delivered to pharmacies before then, he added.

Nottinghamshire LPC chief officer Nick Hunter said that “grapevine gossip” suggests that the scheme will launch at the “beginning of October”.

“We’re too close now, and still waiting for... the specification and final details around when it will go live”, he told C+D.

NHS England told C+D that it is “committed” to implementing the national scheme “in time for the 2015-16 seasonal flu vaccination programme”.

The national commissioner expects “many” of its regional teams to have commissioned similar temporary local flu initiatives to that in West Yorkshire, it added.

Under the national scheme, pharmacists will receive £9.14 for every vaccination – including £1.50 for the costs of training and waste disposal – plus reimbursement for the cost of the vaccine.

 

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