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Revealed: GPs discourage public from using pharmacy flu jabs

Posters in practices, notes on prescriptions, and a mention in a monthly newsletter: C+D reveals the extent of GPs' opposition to the pharmacy flu service

C+D has received more examples of GP surgeries discouraging patients from getting their flu jab at a pharmacy.

In one case, Danetre Medical Practice in Daventry, Northamptonshire, displayed a poster that claimed profits from England's national pharmacy flu service “are not fed back into the NHS”.

“Did you know that free NHS flu jabs are being offered at pharmacies? Did you also know that if you have your vaccination done at a pharmacy, all profits go to that company?" the practice said in the poster, seen by C+D.

Practice manager Jo Gilford told C+D that the poster was taken down “within 24 hours” because of a complaint. The practice then apologised to NHS England – a solution it said the commissioning body was “happy with”.

Vaccines already ordered

Kenneth MacRae Medical Centre in Rainford, St Helens, told patients in its monthly newsletter that it had already ordered vaccines for all patients who received the flu jab there last year.

“Please bear this in mind if visiting pharmacists offering the flu vaccine or we may end up paying for lots of vaccines we cannot use,” it said.

A community pharmacist in the St Helens area told C+D he was “disappointed” with the language used. “It is a shame. We hear lots about how busy GPs are, but when an opportunity comes up to reduce their workload they turn it down,” the pharmacist said.

“If a GP takes the opportunity of a jab to provide extra services [to a patient], then that's great. [But] the newsletter does seem to make patients feel guilty if they use the pharmacy service,” he added.

The Kenneth MacRae Medical Practice declined to comment on the newsletter.

"Difficulties" with patient records

On a repeat prescription from Benfleet Surgery in Essex, seen by C+D, the practice added a note warning that geting vaccinated elsewhere would “create difficulties ensuring that records are complete”.

Essex local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) chief executive officer Ash Pandya told C+D the note is “misleading” and “unnecessarily scaring patients”.

“Basically what they’re saying is we won’t know if you’ve had a flu jab or not. [But] we’re using [data tool] PharmOutcomes in Essex, which sends the message to the GP automatically,” he said.

The surgery told C+D it was unable to comment on the note.

NHS England told C+D it could not comment on individual cases but pledged to take “appropriate action where necessary and when information is passed onto us through official procedures”.

The examples come after C+D revealed a Doncaster GP practice had text-messaged its patients to inform them that getting vaccinated away from the practice “puts NHS money into private companies”.

 

Do you have evidence that a GP practice is discouraging patients from using the pharmacy flu service?

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