• Monday, June 27, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Doctors call for support in Xmas vaccination drive

FILE PHOTO: UK prime minister Boris Johnson holds a vial of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine at Wockhardt’s pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Wrexham, Wales.

By: Pramod Thomas

By NADEEM BADSHAH

GPs will see patients and also administer Covid vaccine

LEADING GPs have called for support to help them deal with “workload pressures” during the upcoming rollout of a coronavirus vaccine.

Family doctors are set for a hectic few months with a Covid-19 jab expected to be unveiled in December if the Pfizer/BioNTech option is approved by health regulators. It is expected the vaccines being developed will require two doses, around three to four weeks apart, and could be given to people in large venues, including conference halls and schools.

GP surgeries will be able to opt-in to the vaccination service, sparking fears over the threat to patient care with services to be scaled back so they can administer the jab to millions of people. Family medics are also set to see a surge in people wanting the flu vaccine with people aged over 50 able to get one free of charge from December 1, which could impact patients getting an appointment.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, a GP in Sheffield, Yorkshire, told Eastern Eye: “The Covid-19 vaccination campaign will be unprecedented in its scale, but GPs – who are experts in mass immunisation – will want to play a leading role vaccinating those in their communities, building on the trusted relationships they already have with their patients.

“No one is under any illusion that a vaccination programme of this scale will be an easy feat, and GPs will require support nationally, as well as cooperation with various colleagues locally and most importantly, the understanding of patients.”

Dr Kasaraneni, British Medical Association’s (BMA’s) GP committee executive team member, added: “While the details of specific vaccines and dates are yet to be confirmed, once a safe, approved vaccine is available, we would urge all those who are eligible to get themselves protected once they are invited to do so.”

Surgeries offered 1.5 million more appointments in September compared to September 2019, figures show.

GP surgeries have been told by NHS England to start preparing for the Covid vaccination programme from this week (December 1). Practices will be given “at least 10 days notice” of the start of the campaign, it said.

Dr Kamal Sidhu, a GP in Durham and chair of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, told Eastern Eye: “There is a lot of planning about vaccination already ongoing behind the scenes. GP
practices have already submitted plans in collaboration with each other via primary care networks as to how they plan to deliver the Covid vaccines. We are also undertaking the mammoth task of a winter flu vaccination drive already extended to millions of more patients than we normally do.

“Hence, as we pool our staff to deliver the largest mass vaccination in the history of NHS, we will need to deprioritise some of the work especially administrative work and some of the routine care.”

Dr Sidhu added: “The focus is to stand down the work that does not impact direct clinical care but there may well be some delays when limited number of staff – especially nursing staff – is deployed at the chosen vaccination sites which are likely to be needing to open seven days a week.

“But, we do not want patients to delay seeking care if they are unwell or have worrying symptoms of serious illnesses such as cancer.”

It comes after research found more than half of doctors are wasting at least an hour a day on administration tasks. The health service is being urged to let medics communicate with patients securely over WhatsApp and provide staff with simpler technology so more time can be devoted to patient care.

The Serum Institute of India in Pune has partnered with AstraZeneca to produce the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

The NHS review found that medics working in the community spent at least a third of their time on administration and patient coordination.

It called for changes including single logins across multiple computers.

Dr Farah Jameel is a BMA GP committee executive team member and a GP in London. She said: “A safe, effective vaccine will be decisive in helping the country – and indeed the world – recover from the  devastating effects of Covid-19 and GPs will want to help as many of their patients as possible get protected from this deadly virus.

“Of course, we are all too aware of the workload pressures that faced general practice even before the pandemic. In order to launch a widespread campaign to protect our patients, communities and the nation as a whole, we will need to prioritise this and the immediate health needs of patients.

“This will have an impact on some routine services, and we would kindly ask our patients to be patient and understanding during this time.

“To be clear, however, those who need to see a GP or other member of practice staff for a health concern should not hesitate in contacting their practice and an appointment – on the phone, digitally or in person where appropriate – will be made if necessary.”

The NHS said local pharmacies will be used to roll out the coronavirus injection where GP coverage is not enough.

Professor Mahendra Patel, a pharmacist and the national BAME community and pharmacy lead for University of Oxford’s PRINCIPLE Covid-19 treatment trial, said: “Who is the only premise open seven days a week and providing health care advice? It’s the pharmacy. These are the foot soldiers we need to use more in terms of the resource and the network.”

The Department of Health and Social Care has said the NHS has vast experience delivering widespread vaccination programmes and an enormous amount of planning has taken place to ensure the health service stands ready to roll out a Covid-19 vaccine including an expanded workforce.

Eastern Eye

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