Any Covid-vaccine certification scheme must not impact GP workload and should address inequal access to vaccinations, the Royal College for General Practitioners (RCGP) has warned.
In its submission to the Government’s review into a Covid-status scheme, the College also called for general practice to be consulted during ‘all stages of the development’ to make sure it does not worsen GP workload.
The document said: ‘Any system put into place for vaccination certificates should have a zero-impact on GP workload and thus ensure GPs can focus fully on patient care.’
It noted that while initial plans appear to use NHS Digital data processing services, alternative solutions for those without digital access must be developed to keep workload down.
The RCGP also highlighted that such a scheme would need to consider how lower uptake in some BAME communities and lower income groups might impact people’s access to services or venues.
It would also need to outline solutions for any digital inequalities or data security concerns related to the NHS App or any other digital platform that is used.
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the RCGP, said: ‘GPs and our teams are currently working incredibly hard delivering the Covid-19 vaccination programme alongside the usual care and services our patients rely on.
‘While the College is not necessarily opposed to the introduction of some sort of opt-in proof of vaccination document to allow for international travel, it must not become the role of GPs and our teams to issue these. It would not be sensible for GPs, or any other members of the practice team, to spend their time on cumbersome red tape that will take them away from patient care.’
He added that measures would ‘need to be introduced to minimise the risk of widening health inequalities’, including alternative, digital-free proof of vaccination or a solution for those who cannot receive the vaccine.