PSNC submits response on future of vacs services

PSNC has submitted its response to NHS England’s market engagement on the future of vaccination services.

The consultation is designed to help NHS England deliver a future vaccination strategy. It aims to support local teams that plan and deliver vaccinations to:

  • build on the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme’s success and learning; and
  • provide responsive, accessible, convenient and high quality NHS vaccination services to people and their families.

In PSNC’s consultation response, it agrees with NHS England’s proposed vision for vaccination services and suggests a wider range of NHS vaccinations being available from community pharmacies could support the achievement of increased vaccination levels.

The PSNC response highlights the following:

  • Community pharmacy contractors take a responsive approach to the needs of local communities, by providing access to services across opening hours that are generally longer than those in other parts of primary care;
  • The sector has shown the ability to step up in times of need and to provide surge capacity in the provision of clinical services;
  • Opportunities for distributing centrally procured vaccines to pharmacies could be explored through contracts with pharmaceutical wholesalers;           
  • Enabling the increasing use of interoperable IT systems would support wider levels of vaccination through pharmacies and provide NHS England with real-time data;  
  • The use of national protocols to authorise the administration of vaccines, using a team-based approach beneficially maximises the provider’s use of skill mix;
  • The use a National Enhanced Service for the commissioning of pharmacy vaccination services could support some national standardisation, where it is helpful and appropriate, while allowing local decisions on the best placed pharmacies to meet the needs of the local population;
  • A range of vaccinations available from a well distributed network of NHS providers, such as community pharmacy, will help to drive improved uptake; and
  • Pharmacy’s location at the heart of local communities means they are in a strong position to reach out to the less well-served members of the public living in their area.

Any additional services that contractors could provide can only be considered with additional remuneration above the current global sum in the community pharmacy contractual framework to ensure that the services are adequately resourced.

Commenting on the potential for greater use of pharmacies to administer vaccinations, Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at PSNC said:

“We’ve always known, and the evidence supports this, that community pharmacies are one of the most popular and accessible places for people to receive a range of vaccinations.

“The NHS was slow to take advantage of this at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we welcome this consultation from them to bring together a wide range of views on the topic.

“In the longer-term, if the right funding and support is in place, many pharmacies could help deliver a much wider range of NHS vaccination programmes – giving the public the convenience and service that they want, and taking pressure off our general practice colleagues. It makes perfect sense, and we look forward to the NHS response to this consultation.”

Read PSNC’s response to the NHS England consultation