Flu service back for winter 2016

NHS England has announced it will recommission the Community Pharmacy winter flu vaccination programme in 2016/17, after nearly a quarter of a million more people benefited from vaccinations in 2015/16.

A total of 10,407,913 seasonal flu vaccinations were delivered in 2015/16. This included 240,259 additional patients who chose to receive vaccinations in a community pharmacy compared to the previous year, said NHS England. The number of the most vulnerable patients receiving flu vaccination also increased, including those in ‘at risk’ categories and pregnant women, despite the mild winter.

“This is great news for patients, and an excellent way of demonstrating that pharmacists can routinely be turned to for preventative healthcare,” said Sandra Gidley, chair of the English Pharmacy Board.

“Close and effective” working with GP surgeries can make the service even more successful this year, she added.

 The terms and fees for the recommissioned service will remain the same as in the 2015/16 and the early announcement this year will support pharmacies in managing and ordering vaccine stocks.

Some GPs have reacted angrily to the news, however, with Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the GPC, saying: “Practices will be frustrated that NHS England is ignoring the evidence that the extension of the flu immunisation scheme this year failed to deliver significant improvements and in fact led to a drop in overall uptake, fragmentation of a previously good service to patients, wasted vaccine that had been pre-ordered by practices and in some cases undermined previously good relationships between practices and pharmacies.”

Click here for tips and advice from Numark on how to make the most of your flu service.

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