The pharmacy flu service should not be recommissioned for a third year if it does not produce "conclusive evidence" that it increases vaccine uptake, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said.
Many GPs were "surprised" by the announcement on Monday (May 9) that the pharmacy service had been recommissioned, the BMA told C+D on the same day.
There must be a “serious commitment” to a full review of the project this time around, it stressed.
“The BMA does have concerns that at present this particular scheme has not demonstrated a significant increase in overall uptake over the last flu season,” the doctors' union said.
It is vital that the flu vaccinations are delivered in "the most effective way", the BMA added.
Professionals must "pull together"
NHS Alliance national executive Mark Robinson said health professionals must “pull together” to improve immunisation performance, which was why NHS Alliance is happy that NHS England had recommissioned the service.
“Those commissioning the service need to construct elements of the contract that help primary care providers, GP practices, and community pharmacy to work together,” Mr Robinson said. “It should not be about providers, but about [doubling] the opportunity for people to obtain immunisation.”
East Anglia GP Matthew Piccaver told C+D that “whatever increases uptake in at risk groups is good”. She stressed the need for co-operation between pharmacists and GPs, “not divide and conquer”.
Provisional figures published by Public Health England in March showed that vaccine uptake across England fell to 71% at the end of January, down from 72.5% the previous year. Rates also dropped in people younger than 65 in clinical risk groups, from 50% to 45%, and in pregnant women by 1.6%.
Pharmacy Voice has called for more to be done to achieve flu uptake targets. Read more here.