Practices are getting increasingly frustrated by the UK’s duplicate COVID-19 vaccination system, it has been revealed.
Growing numbers of patients are making double bookings after being invited both by practices and by the NHS nationally, GPs in London have warned. The warning came as the UK passed ten million vaccinations – but practices warned that the duplication risked vaccines being waste.
GPs in south west London have complained of a “lack of clarity” in NHS England about booking policies and invitations. Meanwhile in Shropshire GPs called for public “patience” as nationally issued letters caused confusion. NHS England is issuing letters nationally to those invited for vaccination, pointing them to the major mass vaccination sites.
The South West London Primary Care Provider Alliance has asked NHS England to set up a joint planning meeting to coordinate invitations, the Health Service Journal reported. Its letter said “We are already seeing” double bookings, adding: “This does not represent value for money and is an inefficient, wasteful use of available resources.”
It added: “Our primary care-led services are receiving inadequate or no vaccine supply, and there is no transparency regarding how decisions on allocation of vaccine supply are being made. Given the apparent limits on vaccine supply, there is concern that supplies to primary care services will be further limited to enable prioritisation to the mass vaccination sites. The current approach, where there is a lack of consideration in relation to the mobilisation of mass sites, is to the detriment of successful existing local vaccination services and to the overarching objectives of the national programme outlined above.”
NHS London told the journal: “All sites are getting their fair share of supplies to vaccinate the top four priority groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation by mid-February, and primary care networks in southwest London continue to play their important part in the success of the programme, just as they do across England.”
In rural Shropshire, the national letters have led patients thinking they have to travel dozens of miles to major vaccination centres because they were not informed about local GP centres, practices warned.
Dr Catherine Rogers, clinical director of North Shropshire primary care network, urged the public not to call practices about vaccination but to wait to be contacted. She said: “As the letter says if you do not wish to travel then wait to hear from your GP for a more local appointment. GP practices across north Shropshire are currently contacting all patients in priority groups one to four to book into our two local vaccination hubs at Prees Medical Practice and in Oswestry. All our practices expect to have contacted and offered appointments to all patients in groups 1-4 by mid-February in line with the national target. We have the capacity to offer all patients in groups 1-4 appointments within this timeframe so please do not worry that you will not be offered an appointment soon.”