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C+D writes open letter to BMA to tackle flu service rivalries

C+D deputy news editor Annabelle Collins has urged BMA members to collaborate with pharmacy

C+D’s deputy news editor Annabelle Collins has written an open letter to a British Medical Association (BMA) representative urging him to denounce the tactics of certain GP practices diverting flu patients away from pharmacies.

In her open letter – which has been posted and emailed to the BMA today (November 1) – Ms Collins argues that both professions should work together to vaccinate as much of the population as possible.

“Not only is this good for patients, it is ultimately good for the NHS, as it will help ease seasonal pressures on A&E departments and shorten GP waiting lists,” Ms Collins says.

She also calls for Dr Green to issue a statement calling on BMA members to collaborate with local pharmacies, and denounce “the use of any tactics designed to restrict patients’ freedom to choose where they receive their vaccination”.

The letter is a response to comments made by the BMA’s clinical and prescribing policy lead, Dr Andrew Green, who in August accused the national pharmacy flu service of “undermining good working relationships” between practices and pharmacists.

He also claimed that “at present, there is still no conclusive evidence that this particular scheme has demonstrated a significant increase in overall uptake”.

However, Ms Collins stressed that in the first eight weeks of the current flu season over 900,000 vaccinations have already been administered across community pharmacies in England, according to data from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

Last season, 98% of patients who received their vaccination in a community pharmacy were “very satisfied” with the service, and 99% “would be willing” to get their flu jab at a pharmacy again, according to data from NHS England.

Recurring issue

Since the national service was commissioned by NHS England in community pharmacies in 2015, C+D has received a number of reports each year of GP practices deterring patients from receiving their flu jab at a pharmacy.

Earlier this month, a GP surgery in Doncaster was found to be threatening to withhold repeat prescriptions from patients if they chose not to get vaccinated at the surgery, while a notice handed out to patients of an Eastbourne GP surgery claimed pharmacy flu jabs could threaten its ability to provide other services.

Last year, NHS England said it “expects general practices and pharmacies to work together to ensure as many eligible people as possible take up the offer of a flu jab”. While in 2015, the Royal College of General Practitioners stated: "It is an individual’s choice where they get vaccinated.”


Read Ms Collins' reasons for writing the letter here.

Have you experienced GPs discouraging patients from a pharmacy flu jab?

Mary Pennington Somerset LPC, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

I can't seem to open the letter? Has anyome else experienced problems?

Lilian Anekwe, Editorial

Hello Mary,

You can also download the letter if you copy and paste this link into your browser:


Lilian Anekwe

Deputy editor, C+D. 

Jenny Etches, Community pharmacist

We've done fewer NHS flus this year but the ones we have done are largely because patients can't get the jabs done at the surgeries until December. But they've been noticeably more active at diverting patients away from us - but very happy to send non NHS patients to us for private jabs - which we've done far more of. 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Oh please, we don't want to upset the doctors now. Aren't we always on our best behaviour when the GP pops in to have his prescription filled?

A Hussain, Senior Management

At least she's trying and isn't pulling her punches.  They tend not to listen but, better than us constantly sucking up as that's gotten us far hasn't it?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Thank you. This should definiteley scare GPs into falling in line.

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