Pharmacy to offer NHS flu jabs

Cormac Tobin, Managing Director at Celesio UK, including LloydsPharmacy

Yesterday the PSNC (Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee) announced that a NHS flu vaccination service will be launched within Community Pharmacy in England in September 2015.

Community Pharmacy will be able to offer patients within the at-risk flu category, for example the elderly and those living with diabetes or other long-term medical conditions, over the age of 18, a NHS flu vaccination.

We welcome the announcement and recognition as we feel this is an area Community Pharmacy can greatly deliver. We are in the heart of communities and see a vast range of patients on a daily basis, making us ideally placed to communicate the NHS flu service to a large number of people, potentially increasing the number of those vaccinated in the at-risk group.

The announcement though has not had a positive response from all healthcare professions as some GPs believe that there will be a duplication of efforts if they try to contact their own patients who may have already had their vaccination at a pharmacy. This they believe will be a waste of money and resource on their part. However, I believe this again highlights the need for pharmacy to have access to all or parts of a patient’s records; if a pharmacist could update a patient’s records to say they have received their flu vaccination, their GP would also have sight of this information.

It has been widely reported that GP surgeries are under increasing pressure and that patients find it difficult to make appointments, we believe that through this service we will be able to target and vaccinate more patients, especially those who may have missed getting their vaccination as they don’t want to feel a burden to their GPs by making an appointment for their flu jab. Through this service patients are now being given a greater level of choice; they don’t have to worry about making an appointment and can benefit in some cases from pharmacy having longer opening hours than GP surgeries.

This is a great step to Community Pharmacy being seen as a real provider of primary care, and as a solution to some of the issues faced by the NHS, especially the over-crowding of GP surgeries. LloydsPharmacy has been offering private flu vaccinations, and in some areas NHS vaccinations, for a number of years. Our colleagues are highly trained and fully qualified to undertake an advanced NHS flu vaccination service and we look forward to seeing how this service develops.