Practices are required to provide a named lead to oversee and improve access to vaccination and immunisation services, NHS England has said.
In a letter sent to CCGs yesterday, NHS England detailed five core contractual standards to be introduced to from 1 April to support routine vaccination and immunisation services.
The changes were first set out in the February 2020 update to the GP contract agreement for 2020/21 to 2023/24, as part of a two-year transition to the new requirements.
The named lead will need to work with colleagues across the practice’s primary care network (PCN), Child Health Information Services (CHIS), and school-aged vaccination services to understand current performance and make improvements, NHS England said.
They will also be responsible for oversight of vaccination and immunisation services, ensuring that the core standards are met and that opportunities for vaccination are maximised within their practice.
The letter also said that the named lead does not need to be a clinician, but if they are not, then they must work alongside and be supported by one.
Last year’s update confirmed that vaccinations and immunisations would become an essential service, starting with measles mumps and rubella in 2020/21, before extending to the other vaccines from April 2021.
From 1 April, the provision of vaccination and immunisation services will become an essential service for all routine NHS-funded vaccinations with the exception of child and adult seasonal flu, which will continue as enhanced services, and Covid-19 vaccination, the letter said.
The second standard requires practices to offer sufficient provision of convenient appointments to cover 100% of their eligible population and ensuring that enough trained staff are available.
NHS England said that while practices can collaborate across their PCN to achieve vaccination coverage, individual practices must make sure appointments are suited to their own population.
These should be delivered at a range of times, and patients should have the option to book online, it added.
‘Appointments should be available at a range of times across the week, including during extended hours and extended access appointments in evenings and weekends, to provide maximum flexibility for working adults and parents,’ it said, adding that if a patient misses an appointment, GPs should use that time to proactively follow-up.
Practices will also be expected to ensure that their call/recall and opportunistic offers of vaccination are made in line with agreed national standards, NHS England said.
This includes – as a minimum – that all patients are proactively offered all routine vaccinations as they become eligible, unless otherwise specified, it added.
The letter said: ‘Patients who do not respond to the initial invitation should be recalled on a minimum of two separate additional occasions as needed to ensure vaccination. In most cases, recall activity should continue beyond three contacts until vaccination had been completed – especially for routine childhood immunisations – to ensure maximum individual and population protection.’
If a patient has not responded to a second invitation a healthcare professional should make contact via ‘either face-to-face or a telephone conversation’, it added.
The patient should also be ‘flagged on the GP record as unimmunised’ if they are still yet to respond.
NHS England added that opportunistic vaccine delivery will remain ‘an important delivery mechanism irrespective of whether a programme is designated as call/recall’, especially for those programmes where primary responsibility for delivery sits outside the practice, such as HPV vaccination.
Catch-up campaigns and record keeping
The remaining two standards cover participation in national catch-up campaigns and record keeping and reporting.
NHS England said in the letter that it recognises most practices are ‘already working’ to the five standards and ‘do not need to take further action’.
All payment details for the services will be included in the Statement of Financial Entitlements from 1 April 2021, it added, and service specifications will no longer be issued with the exception of those for flu vaccination.