It’s flu season, yay! Not yay really… As a PM, I used to loathe flu season with its enormous amount of work, including juggling staff, patients and of course vaccine deliveries, hoping your reception team wouldn’t forget to put the vaccines in the fridge, despite this being tattooed on their foreheads. Somehow, I still felt the need to remind them almost hourly!
For some unknown reason, now that I’m a PCN manager I feel it’s a really great idea to organise a flu campaign for all eight practices! Clearly, lockdown has had a bigger effect on me than I thought. In any normal year, I’d never have thought this would be a winning plan.
The story began back in May, when two “birds from Hyde” (as we fondly call ourselves) had a madcap conversation about how we as a PCN could run the programme for our 25,000 eligible patients. Lynne and I got a bit giddy and discussed how amazing it would be if we could have an online booking system which all patients could use from any of the eight surgeries in Hyde. The system would check the person’s eligibility by checking the clinical system and then, once eligibility was established, the patient could book an appointment. We also thought it would be really cool if the system would allow us to scan the vaccine box and then send the vaccine details back to the person’s clinical record. If we’re honest, we felt this was something that could only be achieved in a far-fetched futuristic Hollywood movie. But it appears we were wrong and this type of technology is in fact available today. We approached Health Innovation Manchester to see if they could support us, and they put us in touch with a third-party developer called Cievert, and so the process began!
At about the same time in May, we talked to our eight GP practices about the possibility of having a drive-through for the flu vaccine programme this year, and if we were to do this then we’d need to pool our vaccines. We’re based in Tameside and our rates of COVID-19 cases have remained high. We also have a high prevalence of COPD and heart failure, so we felt the drive-through was the safest way to deliver the programme this year.
We approached all our local pharmacies as we’d realised early on that we were around 11,000 vaccines short if we wanted to vaccinate 100% of our eligible patients. We had several meetings with the pharmacies and they were really happy to work with us. We agreed what appointments would be available for each pharmacy so we could keep an eye on the amount of vaccines the pharmacists were administering, as we know that GPs and pharmacies working together has always been a no-no!
So here we are in October and months of hard work, trying to organise Portakabins, vaccine fridges, vaccine deliveries, online booking system development, CQC, MOUs, and the list goes on. We’re now completing our third week of clinics, which run five days a week from 8am – 6pm and are staffed by our practice HCAs and a nurse from the PCN. The hard work has certainly paid off; we couldn’t have wished for things to have gone better! Our staff are thrilled with the way things are working and find the whole experience much more pleasant than having clinics in practices. The feedback has been overwhelming, with 99% of patients wanting us to continue delivering vaccines in this way in the future. They feel safe, it’s fast, there’s no queuing, no waiting in crowded waiting rooms, etc. Many patients have asked if we could look at further services being delivered in this way such as blood tests, B12 injections, spirometry, etc.
The lessons learnt have been not to believe stock delivery dates, we need to begin having in-depth conversations now with pharmacies for next year, and that our PCN will buy the flu vaccinations next year. Note to self, bacon butties are a firm favourite with HCA staff, fruit not so much!
About the author
Sally Culmer is the Project Manager and Hyde PCN Manager at Healthy Hyde Team. Should you require further information on how Sally and Lynne achieved their good news story, please leave a message below.