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Lack of national IT system could 'undermine' flu service

The absence of a single data system for the whole of England is an example of "poor preparation" for the initiative, say C+D readers


England's national flu service could be “undermined” by the lack of a consistent IT system, C+D readers have warned.

NHS England told local health leaders earlier this month that it has not been able to set up a national system for pharmacists to update GPs about vaccinated patients in time for the flu season.

Community pharmacist Stephen Eggleston posted on the C+D website that the flu service – due to start next month – was being affected by “poor preparation, inadequate support and ludicrous implementation”.

PSNC said on Tuesday (August 25) that it hopes NHS England will publish full details of how pharmacists will deliver the scheme “very soon”, and Mr Eggleston branded the lack of information “very poor”.

“GPs are already booking their flu clinics. I am reluctant to do the same until I am sure I won’t be left with egg all over my professional face,” he added.

Community pharmacist Aryan Butt said NHS England has “not properly prepared for the service”, while pharmacist Sanjay Shah suggested “some will think the Department of Health want us to fail”.

“I hope PSNC has complained to the powers that be about the shocking way pharmacy services always seem to be implemented at the last minute,” Mr Shah added.

Local IT solutions

NHS England advised health leaders to reuse IT systems created for local flu schemes in previous years, but Mr Shah suggested that use of the PharmOutcomes data collection tool could be expanded to cover the national scheme.

Cumbria community pharmacist John Urwin agreed that the PharmOutcomes tool had been an “easy” way to inform GPs about vaccinated patients. 

Community pharmacist Patricia Ojo said that if there is “no central [IT] system” for the flu service “then we need the process simplified for the sake of patient safety and cost-effectiveness”. Rather than issue patients with a satisfaction survey, pharmacists could direct them to an online version, she added.

Earlier this month, LPC leaders voiced concerns that the national flu service could begin a month later than planned due to unresolved “operational questions” about how pharmacists will record vaccinations and transfer information to GPs. 


How would a  national IT system improve the flu service?

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