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NHS turns to London pharmacies to boost flu jab uptake

Commissioning The government is hoping to boost flu vaccination uptake by nearly half across London by commissioning up to 700 pharmacies to deliver the NHS service.

The government is hoping to boost flu vaccination uptake by nearly half across London by commissioning up to 700 pharmacies to deliver the NHS service.


NHS England has commissioned pharmacies in London to deliver the vaccination to at-risk and elderly patients from next month until January, in an initiative run with Pharmacy London, a forum of LPCs across the capital.


Between 500 and 700 pharmacies are expected to provide the vaccinations, which will complement the service offered by GPs, while increasing access and choice for patients, Pharmacy London announced this week (August 19). Pharmacists would be reimbursed £7.51 per vaccine, the same as GPs.


"NHS England should be commended for recognising that pharmacies can reach people in at-risk groups who might otherwise not access the flu vaccine" Mike Holden, NPA

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NHS England was hoping the initiative would see the vaccination uptake increase across the capital from 45 per cent to 65 per cent of those considered vulnerable and at risk, a spokesperson told C+D, with pharmacies providing 100 vaccines each over four months.


Pharmacists already accredited would be delivering the scheme and those taking part would be given a refresher course, the spokesperson said.


Pharmacists who want to receive training to deliver the service should contact their LPCs, Pharmacy London said.


Ealing, Hammersmith & Hounslow LPC chairman Hiten Patel, who is a member of Pharmacy London Flu Team, said it was the first time that a group of pharmacies had led such an initiative.   


He believed pharmacists could make a "real difference" in supporting the government to increase vaccination uptake. Patients would benefit from pharmacies' convenient locations and extended opening hours, he added. 


NPA chief executive Mike Holden said the initiative was "a vote of confidence" in London's pharmacies. "NHS England should be commended for recognising that pharmacies can reach people in at-risk groups who might otherwise not access the flu vaccine," he said.  


The initiative was announced after Public Health England (PHE) blamed a spike in the number of deaths last winter on flu and cold weather, in a report on winter mortality rates published last week (August 15).


PHE chief knowledge officer John Newton said many of the deaths were preventable and there was a need to "work harder to protect vulnerable people from both flu and extremes of weather".


Have you had a flu vaccination service commissioned in your pharmacy?

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3 Comments

Mike Bereza, Community pharmacist

Its super important we get this right this year, this is the first time that community pharmacy gets to prove what it can do to NHS England, i.e. enable access to healthcare that the vulnerable sorely need. We have been given this opportunity and we should make the most of it!

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Has anyone thought what the GPs will think about this ? They don't want to lose their stash. Then the poor Pharmacist neer the practice will be under pressure. But if this happens it is a great opportunity for the pharmacists to show that they are capable of doing such things to take the load out of the GPs who can then concentrate on attending to patients than taking days off as an excuse of minor surgery.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Lets hope they roll this out as a national program

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