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London and Yorkshire report record-breaking flu vaccine uptake

"Word of mouth" has contributed to more than 100,000 flu vaccinations in London pharmacies, says NHS England

Pharmacists in London and West Yorkshire are celebrating record-breaking flu vaccination seasons.

NHS England revealed today (November 28) that 100,000 flu jabs had been delivered by pharmacists across the city for the first time just partway through the season, in a scheme overseen by LPC consortium Pharmacy London. This compared with 67,000 vaccines deliveredacross the whole of last season, NHS England said.

NHS England head of immunisations Kenny Gibson said he was "delighted" that pharmacists in London had reached an "outstanding milestone so early in the flu season". Pharmacy London chief executive Rekha Shah added that "word of mouth" had made the public "far more aware" of the convenience of being vaccinated at a pharmacy.  

Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire (CPWY) also announced this week that more than 7,000 people had been vaccinated by pharmacists in a first for the region. Local contractor Moudy Khodadi said successful pharmacists in the region had all "come to some sort of an understanding" with their local GPs about the best way to vaccinate people.

>Mr Khodadi, owner of Westcliffe Pharmacy in Shipley, said the key to a successful service was collaborating "with GPs, rather than against them". Mr Khodadi had booked 80 per cent of the vaccinations before he had recieved stock of the vaccine, a lesson he learned from GPs, he told C+D yesterday (November 27).

Mr Khodadi said he had not always had good relationships with his local GPs, and pharmacists needed to be willing to make the "first steps" before they saw the "fruits of their labour".

A dedicated vaccination pharmacist

They should also be willing to expand their vaccination service, said Mr Khodadi, who hires a dedicated pharmacist to supply the vaccine on certain days. "It cuts into your profitability, but as a result we've done almost 400 flu vaccines," he said.

"If we'd have ordered in 20 vaccines and thought: ‘just try and get them as they walk in', we wouldn't have been half as successful," he stressed. Mr Khodadi had also started to collect data to decide whether he should offer the nasal flu vaccine next year, he added.

Last week, the all-party pharmacy group (APPG) wrote to all backbench MPs asking them to call for a pharmacy flu service in every constituency.  

How is your flu jab service going this season? 

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Michael Stewart, Community pharmacist

But seriously! This is excellent news for the profession as it will strengthen the evidence available to LPCs when getting pharmacy flu services commissioned. Pharmacists and their teams work extremely hard to deliver excellent service to patients, who seem to be voting with their feet. Pharmacy is clearly able to support the national flu programme and patients are choosing us for our accessibility and professionalism.

There has been a lot of negative comment this year from leaders of the medical profession as to pharmacists ability to deliver a safe and effective service. This is coupled with accusations of profiteering and 'cherry-picking'. But every season we demonstrate excellent practice to commissioners and make the case against these opinions ever stronger.

I am sure the analysis of this current season will prove once and for all to NHS England that pharmacy is key to future flu planning. Hopefully we will never see a repeat of the last minute cancellation of commissioned services due to a blinkered professional chauvanism.

Well done again to all the pharmacy teams around the uk delivering this vital service.

Mr C, Locum pharmacist

Well done. Let's hope that performances like these open the door for us to show what we can really do. I also hope that the NHS don't see that we can do this and reduce the fee that we are paid.

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

This is fantastic news and a real pointer to our future as a profession. When the handcuffs are off then this shows what we can achieve collectively. A real success, congratulations to the LPCs who have strived so hard and to contractors and their pharmacy staff.

Pharmacy HLP, Manager

Great service that pharmacies are offering, we have the time and reach to also get the difficult patients and those who do not fit into the surgery time frame, such as working people.

We are able to educate those high risk patients who are reluctant to have the vaccination who have heard rumors that it can cause flu and help them to decide to have the jab.

Two such patients today.

Michael Stewart, Community pharmacist

Very well done to all involved, keep up the good work. Pharmacy Flu services go from strength to strength each season.

Of course, I imagine you have all been cherry-picking the easy patients and leaving the tricky ones for our long-suffering GP colleagues?

Thought so!

(That is sarcastic before you all start berating me.....)

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