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Community pharmacy services

Pharmacies to be paid more for flu vaccinations this winter

Changes to the flu vaccination service include contractors no longer being required to register with the NHS Business Services Authority and being allowed to carry out vaccinations in patients’ homes under certain circumstances.

The Flu Vaccination Service payment will be increasing to £9.48 in 2018/2019 following discussions between the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and NHS England.

The fee for the service will increase to £7.98 per administered dose, a 34p (4.5%) increase on 2017/2018, plus the additional fee of £1.50 per vaccination, which has stayed the same, taking the total payment to £9.48.

Pharmacist training requirements for the flu vaccination service will also change from this year; pharmacists will now only need face-to-face training for injection technique and basic life support every three years, rather than every two years.

It has also been agreed that contractors will no longer need to register to offer the flu vaccination service with the NHS Business Services Authority and will be able to submit their claims for payment electronically via its webform.

A further change is that contractors will be permitted to administer vaccinations in patients’ homes when this service is requested by the patient, but only in cases where there is an “existing clinical relationship”. This means that services included in the pharmacy’s NHS contract must have been provided previously to the patient. 

Community pharmacies in England administered more than 1.3 million flu vaccinations during the 2017/2018 vaccination season. The average number of vaccinations carried out by each of the 8,987 participating pharmacies was 150, although one contractor exceeded this by carrying out more than 1,000 vaccinations. 

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the PSNC, said: “We are delighted to confirm these changes to the pharmacy Flu Vaccination Service which will help to streamline some of the processes for pharmacies and of course bring some very welcome extra income through the increased payments.” 

He added that his team will be working with NHS England to finalise all the information, resources and guidance that pharmacy teams will need to offer the service.

“Despite some potential logistical challenges with the vaccination for people aged 65 [years] and over I am confident that community pharmacies have another excellent flu vaccination season ahead of them,” he said.

The changes are contained within the NHS England service specification and patient group direction, which was published on 20 August 2018.

Further details of the changes are available in ‘PSNC Briefing 041/18 – Changes to the Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Advanced Service 2018/19’.

The PSNC will be holding a webinar on the 2018/2019 flu vaccination advanced service on 21 August 2018 at 7pm. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205343

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