Community pharmacies in England delivered more than 595,000 vaccinations as part of the first national pharmacy flu service, according to NHS Business Services Authority data published on Wednesday (August 3).
More than 60% of the country's pharmacies signed up to provide the service, with participants carrying out an average of 83 vaccinations over five months.
However, two contractors “greatly exceeded” the average by completing more than 1,000 vaccinations each, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) pointed out.
“The most proficient pharmacy…”
The pharmacy at Charing Practice in Ashford, Kent, delivered 1,682 vaccinations last flu season, according to the NHS data.
PSNC described the pharmacy as “most proficient”, but superintendent Antonio Monachello told C+D yesterday (August 4) that he was unaware his pharmacy had outperformed other branches.
“We are set in quite a rural community, so I guess we are one of the very few places that people can come to get a flu vaccination,” Mr Monachello said.
“We also have a very good working relationship with the local GP practice, and we often get referrals from them when they are overwhelmed,” he added.
Mr Monachello and pharmacist Abigail Russell delivered the majority of the vaccinations, but Mr Monachello said “all of our locums are trained [in delivering flu jabs] and we operate [on] a walk-in basis".
Under the 2015-16 service, more than double the number of patients chose to receive their vaccination in a community pharmacy compared to the previous winter.
“Go all in”
Nat Mitchell, pharmacist and director at JWW Allison & Sons Ltd in Cockermouth, Cumbria – which delivered 1,249 vaccinations last winter – told C+D that pharmacists would do well to “be prepared” for this year’s service.
“If I was going to share any advice from what I have learned, it would be to order vaccines and promotional materials well in advance, and keep on top of your paperwork,” Mr Mitchell said.
He added that getting your staff onboard is vital to the success of the service, and – if you can afford it – employ two pharmacists during the service rollout: “That way both your flu service and prescription business won't be harmed.”
“If you're going to offer the service then go 'all in'. Don't turn patients away because you are busy, as this puts you on a slippery slope to losing business,” he added.
Read C+D's guide on how to run a successful flu service.