National Booking Service (NBS)

Published on: 13th October 2022 | Updated on: 6th January 2023

NHS England’s National Booking Service (NBS), is a digital tool which has enabled patients to use the internet to book their NHS COVID-19 vaccination appointment and amongst some pharmacies – their NHS flu vaccination.

Use of NBS within pharmacy

Flu on NBS proof of concept:  2022 to early 2023

NHS Digital began a ‘proof of concept’ test to extend the use of NBS to include flu clinics. This will allow patients to book their flu vaccination appointments through the NBS in either:

  • Community pharmacy-led COVID-19 sites already using NBS; and
  • About 200 other ‘flu-only’ community pharmacies in the North West.

The proof of concept began from October 14th 2022, coinciding with the 50-64-year-old NOT at clinical risk cohort becoming eligible for free NHS flu vaccinations. It aims to:

  • Test the NBS flu booking technical solution;
  • Support the expansion of patient cohorts and relieve pressure on general practice over autumn / winter 2022;
  • Increase patient choice and visibility of flu vaccine appointment availability for the NHS and patients;
  • Understand whether a national booking platform could increase uptake levels for each cohort; and
  • Prove patients and pharmacy contractors could use NBS for non-COVID-19 vaccinations.

NBS flu calendars were added to community pharmacy Q-Flow accounts in late September 2022 to enable sites to start uploading appointments.

Use of NBS for flu: Autumn 2023 to early 2024

NHS England is to set out arrangements for those pharmacies already using NBS. Community Pharmacy England pressed for NHS England to do this at the earliest opportunity well ahead of the 2023/2024 flu season.

Community Pharmacy IT Group (CP ITG) work

CP ITG fed back to NHS England that the NBS should align to the NHS Booking and Referral Standard (BaRS) at the first possible opportunity, and pharmacy appointment systems should align to BaRS. Development work will be required to enable this to happen.

Full alignment to BaRS should over time lessen the challenge with pharmacy teams needing to manage the burden of multi calendars in the event they made use of NBS. Furthermore pharmacy dedicated vaccine appointment systems may assist with:

  • staff rotas and planning;
  • stock orders;
  • management for just in time deliveries; and
  • it’s patient communications.

At this time NBS does not integrate into pharmacy appointment systems.

Further info

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