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Pharmacy out in the cold after NHS England flu snub

Only two NHS England area teams have commissioned pharmacy to deliver nasal flu vaccines to school children

Only two NHS England area teams have decided to use community pharmacies to deliver the nasal vaccine to school-age children as part of PHE’s national flu campaign


Pharmacists in London have been left dismayed by NHS England's refusal to commission them to deliver the nasal flu vaccine service.

As part of Public Health England's (PHE) flu campaign, which launched on Monday, all children aged two to four years will be offered the Fluenz nasal vaccine. NHS England had the option of using community pharmacies to deliver the vaccine to school-age children, but only two of its area teams has commissioned them to do this.

LPC consortium Pharmacy London delivered a successful flu vaccine service last winter, and chief executive Rekha Shah said the organisation was "very disappointed" not to be able to offer the nasal spray.  

Community pharmacies across the city had been trained to deliver Fluenz along with vaccines for shingles and pertussis before NHS England announced that it would not commission the service in London, Ms Shah told C+D this week. "The idea was that we were being commissioned, so we worked along those lines and got the training. In early August we heard that they've finally decided there's no access for us this year," she said.

Despite this, Ms Shah said Pharmacy London was successfully delivering standard vaccinations, with around 35,000 injections provided in under a month.

Thirteen of NHS England's area teams were delivering a pilot version of the childhood flu vaccination programme to school-age children, but only two – Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and Cumbria, Northumbria and Tyne & Wear – were delivering vaccinations in primary care environments such as community pharmacies, the commissioning body said.

The others were "testing school-based approaches", it said. It declined to comment on why pharmacists in London had not been commissioned to deliver the vaccine.

Cumbria LPC, the only LPC in its region to be commissioned, said that the spray vaccine was being offered in 98 of its pharmacies.

Raising awareness

Children aged two and three years have been eligible to receive the nasal spray vaccination since 2013, and the service was expanded to include four-year-olds this year. PHE said nearly half of mothers were unaware of this "quick, effective and painless" vaccine and that only around 40 per cent of two- and three-year-olds had been vaccinated last year.

Pharmacist Vikesh Patel from Newham, London told C+D he was prepared to deliver Fluenz privately under a patient group directive for the second year in a row, but said he was concerned by a lack of enquiries about the vaccine. "The worrying thing is we haven't had any parents ask for it. The uptake seems to be very low and I think that's because not everyone knows," he told C+D.

PHE should signpost people to community pharmacies, making it clear that the vaccine was safe and could be taken by children of all religious faiths, he added.  

Is NHS England making enough use of pharmacy in flu vaccination?

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G S, Hospital pharmacist

It makes no sense to offer vaccinations to school age children (4 years+) in a community pharmacy. Not when you can instead advertise and offer it in school with a team of nurses, and likely get greater uptake of the vaccination.

Mr C, Locum pharmacist

I'm all for a joke, and wouldn't describe myself as a pharmacy advocate, but when I read some of the comments on the articles on C+D it makes me cringe.

If (and they do) other professions read these comments, they will view pharmacy as a complete joke.

I agree that we do get underpaid for certain roles, but if you look at Pulse Today (The GP website) they think the same. But rolling out this argument to wind people up, regardless of the article is getting old now.

Why should we not want to get paid for doing flu jabs? It is a service that we can do well and it is a revenue stream that helps us to supplement a falling income.

Feel free to troll this comment, but try and say something constructive for a change as humour really isn't your thing.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

never mind the public Pharmacists think the profession is a joke

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

Maybe some other group was wiling to do it for less. LOL

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Naughty boy, not finished the homework yet. Don't force us to put you under detention.

Anyway, now that you behaved less naughty, clarify the following.

When you say "some other group" -- do you have any such group who are qualified to provide these services, that we are not aware of?

and when you say "wiling to do it for less" -- do you have any indication or knowledge of NHSE getting out any contract through a bidding route, that we failed to outbid some of your "other group"?

Now, do your HOMEWORK properly and then decide if you really need to be commenting and being told off, in these forums meant for GROWN UP PROFESSIONALS.

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

I would more than happy to offer the service for free and then sign up the patient on my repeat prescription service. Most customers would be OAPs and they are normally on a wide range of medicines.

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

Nurses should carry out flu jabs and not Pharmacists. Dispensing is a full time job. That coupled with the fact that locums working in a supermarket/big 4 are not insured to carry out flu jabs and managers tend not to work on the weekend. During my days as a locum, I always turned down many flu jabs as my insurance didn't cover it and neither did the multiple want me to carry out any jabs.

This "snub" by NHS England shows the value they put on Pharmacists and Pharmacists

Anyway soon be christmas :)

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

I am happy to inform the cynics of this forum that, being a pharmacist in Worcestershire trained to provide this service, I have already had several enquiries, and adult flu vaccinations have made a very good start, in no small part the efforts of my staff to promote the service. The local GPs have not send tout reminder letters, as they have done in the past, instead relying on a note on the repeat order section of the prescription. as a result, many patients have been left wondering if their GP is providing flu vaccines this year and, knowing we did them (albeit small scale) last year, are asking us for them.
Given that the profit associated with dispensing is being eroded year-on-year, I find the comments from SK on providing the service for free disheartening (although I am aware they are being little more than a wind-up merchant) and would urge pharmacists to support the idea of flu vaccinations, and other services
For info, we are being paid exactly the same as GPs for the flu service - a real victory in this area

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

Hi Steve,
How are the vaccines supplied on the commissioned service?
Don't the GP's get them direct from the NHS vaccination supply chain for free? Are you getting the same?

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"For info, we are being paid exactly the same as GPs for the flu service"

For your information, wherever this service has been commissioned, the pharmacies are paid on par with the GPs. The only difference being the GPs get the vaccine at much lower price than the Pharmacies.

There is only one person on this forum who thinks there the NHS is granting contracts to SOME OTHER GROUP who get paid less (god knows what services and at what price)

Also for your information, there won't be any service that would come out in open till the GPs have been first approached. Its only the greed of the GPs that sometimes puts income first and patients interest next.

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

"" Rekha Shah said the organisation was "very disappointed" not to be able to offer the nasal spray.""

... and you still thought forming a LPN can wait.

Pharmacist Vikesh Patel from Newham (deliver Fluenz privately ), --" "The worrying thing is we haven't had any parents ask for it. The uptake seems to be very low and I think that's because not everyone knows,""
..... they will start listening to you if you start using the word FREE.

Rekha Shah, Community pharmacist

Dear SP Ph
I respond to you as CEO of Pharmacy London and the lead for London LPCs within the development team for the London Vaccination service this year.
First let us get one fact straight - I did not say that forming an LPN CAN wait -- I suggested that the delay in forming an LPN in London meant that we were now able to learn from the experiences of other LPNs who had managed to get set up and running way ahead of us.

More facts re the story above:
The quotes above are from what I said at the Pharmacy Show earlier this week.
However to ensure total clarity which is missing from the above article, what I said was the following:
London pharmacies were asked to gear themselves up to POSSIBLY be able to provide Fluenz nasal vaccine as part of the overall Flu Vaccination programme for 2014/15, This was alongside ongoing discussions between NHSE-(London)& PHE (London) and the DH to give 'access' to London pharmacies for DH stocks of Fluenz as well as to Shingles and Pertussis vaccines.
These discussions came to an end in August when were were informed that the DH could not make these stocks available to London pharmacies (1300+ in number). I said that we were extremely disappointed about this decision - most people would understand why we and London pharmacists would be disappointed. However, we are pleased that the Immunisation Commissioner in London has stated clearly that the intention to commission these additional vaccines when possible in the future, still remains.

The dismay suggested in the article above is somewhat exaggerated - we were extremely disappointed but there is no denying that we were always aware that this could well be the situation at the end.

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

""Devon LPC wins double bid to expand pharmacy's role""

How did they do this ?? Something to ponder about?

Jay Patel, Community pharmacist

Well Said Rekha.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist


London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Honesty please.The disapointment is purely because they can't make any money not for any nobel reason such as preventing children from the flu virus.

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

I think it's time retrench into "Splendid Isolation". If NHS England are going to keep snubbing pharmacy, then the sector should disengage with them, and immediately stop all investment into the sector's infrastructure.

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

Hmmmmmmmm.......... Pharmacy disengage with the paymaster.
I tell you what, you do it first and then we will follow...

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