Covid vaccine sites should be resourced to help them to operate 12 hours a day ‘as standard’, NHS England has said.
In a letter sent last night (13 December) to ICS, CCG and PCN leads, NHSE said the ‘immediate priority’ for all sites is now to boost capacity to support the accelerated campaign.
This will need to include extending opening times and opening additional vaccine ‘pods’ at existing sites.
It said: ‘Sites should request resources to enable them to operate 12 hours a day as standard, seven days a week. In every community there should be slots available at least 16 hours a day.’
This should ‘extend to 24 hour operations where relevant’ for the local community, it added.
It comes after prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday (12 December) that the NHS will aim to offer a booster to all over-18s by the end of December, halving the initial timeline.
ICSs must increase training capacity ‘immediately’
The letter also confirmed that military personnel, police and fire services will be available as extra workforce, adding that ICSs must increase their training capacity ‘with immediate effect’.
It said: ‘Systems will need to release additional workforce beyond those currently working on the vaccination programme. Wider public sector organisations, including local authorities, fire and rescue and police forces are also asked to identify and release any staff members who are trained vaccinators.’
It added that organisations which ICSs have designated as ‘lead employers’ will have up to three military personnel deployed to further support co-ordination and delivery.
These personnel will help ICSs ‘implement a push of workforce out to systems, rather than a traditional demand-led approach’, it said.
Similarly, NHS Professionals and St John Ambulance ‘accelerate recruitment and re-Engagement’, and will share details of the workforce ‘as it becomes available’.
In a briefing yesterday, Chris Whitty, UK chief medical officer, said that the requirement for patients to stay behind for a 15-minute observation period after their Pfizer or Moderna Covid vaccination could be scrapped in the ‘next few days’.
Last week, the DHSC has proposed that the temporary measures that have expanded the workforce eligible to administer Covid and flu vaccines should become permanent.
Meanwhile, the CQC confirmed that unannounced inspections of practices focused on patient access will be postponed for three weeks until January 2022.