NHSE opens EOI process for future C-19 vacs service campaigns

NHS England has, today (30th May 2024), announced the start of a new expression of interest (EOI) process for pharmacy owners that wish to take part in future COVID-19 vaccination service campaigns between September 2024 and March 2026.

The new multi-campaign approach, will mean more pharmacies will be able to choose to participate, with options to engage now or before a confirmed campaign begins. This also removes the additional administrative burden of repeated EOIs before each campaign starts. The approach unifies the EOI process and requirements for all potential providers.

However, NHS England has confirmed, despite further counter-arguments that Community Pharmacy England have put forward, that they will maintain the fee paid for vaccinations at £7.54.

The new EOI process

NHS England has published the Enhanced service specification for the service, comprehensive guidance on the EOI process and the site sign-up process:

COVID-19 vaccination Enhanced service specification

Guidance on the Community Pharmacy Expression of Interest Process

Any pharmacy owners interested in submitting an expression of interest to provide the service from their pharmacy premises should start by reviewing the content of these documents.

The EOI process opens today (30th May 2024) on the NHS Business Services Authority’s Manage Your Service (MYS) portal and for the Autumn/Winter 2024 COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the interim response deadline for submissions is 11.59pm on 27th June 2024.

As the EOI covers provision across multiple campaigns and the details of future campaigns have not yet been confirmed, future interim response deadlines (and any final response deadlines) will be communicated via the NHSBSA website.

Pharmacy owners should note, that there is no guarantee that there will be more than one campaign across the commissioned period due to the dependence on Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommendations and government decisions.

Provision of the service at the pharmacy

Pharmacy owners who wish to participate in the service at their pharmacy can opt-in to the service, subject to meeting the minimum requirements.

These are detailed in the NHS England guidance document, but the following summarises the key points. Pharmacy owners:

  • Need to read the Enhanced service specification and be confident that they will be able to meet its requirements
  • Must also provide the Flu Vaccination Advanced Service from September 2024 to 31st March 2025
  • Must be able to offer at least 100 COVID-19 vaccinations per week
  • Be ‘in good standing’ from a regulatory perspective with the NHS and other organisations such as the General Pharmaceutical Council

Pharmacy owners who submit an EOI for a site at their pharmacy will not be required to administer all vaccinations from the pharmacy; they must also vaccinate eligible housebound/care home patients if requested by NHS England and they may also provide outreach services if agreed with NHS England.

This new EOI process marks a further change from the approach used by NHS England in previous EOI processes.

Additionally, the new EOI process is being hosted on the MYS portal, which NHS England expects will provide a much improved and familiar experience for users.

Provision of the service away from the pharmacy

Pharmacy owners who wish to provide the service from a location away from their pharmacy will need to follow a separate process which will be confirmed in due course.

These decisions will only be taken once the provisional network of pharmacies wanting to vaccinate patients on their premises, primary care network sites and other providers (such as NHS Trusts) has been identified and any subsequent gaps in provision identified.

Funding for the service

NHS England has decided to maintain the fee paid for COVID-19 vaccinations at £7.54.

Alongside that fee, pharmacy owners that vaccinate a housebound patient in their home will be able to claim an additional £10 fee.

In addition, an additional £2.50 will be payable for the administration of each COVID-19 vaccination to each patient where the seasonal influenza vaccination is not announced.

This decision was made despite the additional counterarguments that we and general practice representatives put to NHS England on the increased complexity of the COVID-19 vaccination process, related administration workload compared to other vaccinations and increased costs due to inflation and cost of living.

Further information on the service

Read the System letter – Preparations for an Autumn/Winter 2024/25 flu and COVID-19 seasonal campaign

Further information on the service, guidance and resources can be found via our COVID-19 Vaccination Hub page.

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