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Pharmacy fee stays at £9.58 per flu vaccination, while NHSE mulls national protocol

NHSE&I may introduce a national protocol to support the upcoming flu vaccination programme, while the pharmacy service fee for the 2021/22 season remains at £9.58, PSNC has confirmed.

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) has confirmed to the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) that a national protocol may be introduced whereby those who are registered professionals but cannot administer the vaccine under a patient group direction (PGD) and those who are unregistered healthcare professionals can administer the flu vaccine under the supervision of a pharmacist.

However, the final decision on this rests with the health secretary, the negotiator said in a statement last night (August 2).

All those providing vaccinations on behalf of a pharmacy must sign the PGD or national protocol, should this be approved, according to the service specification for the community pharmacy seasonal influenza vaccination advanced service, which was also published yesterday.

Earlier this year, former health secretary Matt Hancock approved national protocols for the administration of the Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer vaccines. Many pharmacy-led sites participating in the COVID-19 vaccination programme have already used these protocols, according to PSNC.

 

PSNC: “Disappointing” that service fee stays the same

 

Pharmacy contractors will be paid £9.58 for each vaccine administered – while GP practices will get £10.06 for administering each vaccine, according to the enhanced service specification seasonal influenza vaccination programme 2021/22.

The £9.58 per vaccination fee – which has remained at the same level since 2019/20 – is funded from the NHS vaccination budgets, PSNC specified. Contractors will be also reimbursed for the “vaccine cost at the basic price of the individual vaccine administered and an allowance at the applicable VAT rate”.

Pharmacy contractors were paid a “combined value” of £10.08 per vaccination during the 2020/21 flu season only, which included an extra 50p per vaccination. However, the fee per vaccination remained unchanged from its 2019/20 level, at £9.58.

PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said the negotiator is “disappointed that the hard work undertaken by contractors and their teams last year and the increasing costs they are experiencing in providing services has not been recognised by NHSE&I in an increase in the funding for the service this season”.

“PSNC will continue to make the case to the NHS for increased funding for the service in future years,” Mr Buxton added.

Contractors offering flu vaccinations off-site will be able to claim for a contribution to cover the additional costs they will incur, but NHSE&I has not yet published the details of how to apply for this funding.

 

Flexibility to offer the flu service

 

PSNC and NHSE&I said that the same flexibilities that pharmacies were allowed during the 2020/21 flu season will continue to apply from September 1.

Pharmacists will be able to vaccinate care home staff and residents, as well as offer vaccinations outside of the consultation room or off-site to maintain social distancing.

Last month, C+D reported that Boots had plans to create “special hubs” to offer flu vaccinations in more than 100 of its pharmacies, which will be “an expansion of the Boots COVID-19 vaccination hubs”.

With a global lack of defence built up against flu, modelling for this next season suggests that flu levels in the UK could be up to 50% larger than typically seen and the 2021/22 flu season may begin earlier than usual, the Department of Health and Social Care, NHSE&I and Public Health England wrote in a letter to contractors last month (July 17).

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