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Community pharmacy services

NHS England extends pharmacy flu vaccination scheme

Community pharmacists in England will be commissioned for the second year running to offer a seasonal influenza vaccination service to patients in at risk groups, NHS England announced on 9 May 2016.

The move follows the success of the 2015–2016 scheme delivered as part of the national immunisation programme and will be offered as an advanced service under the national community pharmacy contract.

The decision comes despite opposition from some GPs and claims that the pharmacy scheme has led to fragmentation of the vaccination service[1].

Community pharmacists vaccinated 240,259 patients in their pharmacies in 2015–2016 out of a total of 10 million vaccinations given as part of the national programme, according to NHS England.

Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England, says: “Our flu vaccination service made it possible for nearly a quarter of a million more people last year to receive a vaccination in their local community pharmacy of choice. We are pleased to confirm that we will continue to offer this more convenient option to the public during the year ahead.”

The decision was welcomed by national community pharmacy negotiators. Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services for the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), says: “This early announcement of recommissioning will help pharmacy contractors prepare for provision of this important service and is to be welcomed.”

The PSNC will offer guidance to contractors once more details are known, but NHS England has already confirmed that the terms and fees will remain the same as for 2015–2016.

During winter 2015–2016 pharmacists were paid £9.14 for every vaccine given, including a payment of £1.50 to cover the costs of training and clinical waste disposal. The price of the vaccine was also reimbursed as part of the national agreement. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201130

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