Camden and Islington local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) told C+D it has received reports from contractors of GPs “chastising” patients who admit they may get their flu jab at a nearby pharmacy.
LPC chief officer Yogendra Parmar said “at least one” GP surgery in the area had also “threatened some patients” with being removed from the surgery’s list of patients if they decided not to receive their jab from their GP.
“It’s not pleasant out there,” said Mr Parmar. “It is affecting the number [of people] being vaccinated as it is scaring patients – they don’t want to be delisted or upset their GP.”
Individual contractors do not want to “put their head above the parapet” and expose these practices because they are concerned there will be consequences. “As a local pharmacy, you don’t want to rock the boat in case scripts start drying up,” Mr Parmar added.
“Ultimately it’s down to NHS England to sort this out,” he said. “It’s an outrageous practice that they need to stamp out.”
A Midlands contractor, who wished to remain anonymous, also reported that some patients were coming into the pharmacy “scared” to get their flu jab, as they are “getting told off by GPs”.
Although it is not yet “as bad as last year” – when C+D readers reported GPs placing posters in practices, notes on prescriptions, and even a mention in a monthly newsletter, to discourage patients from getting their flu jab at a pharmacy – there are a “significant number of patients afraid”, the contractor told C+D.
“The practice manager asked me how many of her patients I was going to steal this year,” he added.
A counter assistant from Bolton told C+D that GPs in the area have “really pushed” for patients to go to their surgery for their flu jab.
“I went to see my GP and they didn’t know I worked in a pharmacy – they were [adamant] I would have my flu vaccine there, but I didn’t,” she said.
Thorrun Govind, an independent pharmacist working in Bolton, told C+D: “Patients have reported they have been questioned why they have gone to a pharmacy for a
C+D has asked NHS England to comment on the latest allegations against GPs, but had not received a comment at the time of going to press.