The new national pharmacy flu immunisation scheme could see pharmacists paid more than GPs to administer the vaccinations, leading to the GPC calling for a review of payments.
The pharmacy scheme – announced earlier this week – will allow any pharmacist in England to offer flu jabs to adults in clinical risk groups under the national immunisation programme.
Pharmacists will be paid the same as GPs per vaccine dose they administer – £7.64 – but will also get £1.50 each time to cover other costs involved in providing the service, including training, revalidation and disposal of clinical waste.
GPs are paid a dispensing fee of around £2 per prescription on top of the £7.64 fee, but the GPC said this could still leave GPs out of pocket compared with pharmacists, as they have to carry out more administrative work – including calling and recalling patients and maintaining records for the national programme.
GP leaders previously warned against expanding pharmacy flu vaccination schemes, as they make it harder for GPs to get paid for the service by ‘creaming off’ the healthier patients, leaving GPs to chase hard-to-reach groups.
The GPC said it would now analyse the schemes and press for payments for GPs to be brought into line with those for pharmacy, if there were inequities in the overall workload, responsibility and remuneration.
Dr Andrew Green, chair of the GPC’s clinical and prescribing subcommittee, told Pulse: ‘The funding streams for influenza vaccine are complex and different for pharmacists and GPs.
‘We will be carrying out an audit of these in order to ensure that the funding provided to our different professions truly represents the overall workload involved and the responsibility carried.’
GP’s are predictably up in arms about loss of an easy income stream. However, there are other issues here. Our focus will be on the disposal of sharps from pharmacies.
Though not a new waste stream for pharmacies but the massive seasonal increase must be disposed and new contracts and an additional funding stream for disposal costs must be negotiated.
Is this the time to bolster the role of high street pharmacies in the collection and front line disposal of unwanted medications?