Vaccinations will become part of a ‘one-stop shop’ with NHS staff set to expand the offer of blood pressure tests and other health checks and advice alongside routine vaccinations, NHS England has announced.
The long-awaited national vaccination strategy document, published today, also said that local health teams ‘will have more flexibility’ to locate vaccine services in convenient local places such as community centres, sport facilities and places of worship.
The strategy does not suggest taking vaccinations away from practices but indicates programmes should be led from PCN rather than practice level.
The strategy outlines a plan to ‘make vaccination a fundamental part of primary care network (PCN)-level integrated, multidisciplinary, flexible teams, as proposed in the Fuller Stocktake, with these working collaboratively across the whole vaccination network and delivering other healthcare interventions alongside vaccination and when not vaccinating’.
Making vaccination a central role of integrated neighbourhood teams could support ‘a more joined-up offer to the public’, the strategy added.
In 2025/26 people will be able to access their own vaccination record through the NHS App and book vaccinations.
NHS England will make changes to GP IT systems in 2024/25 that will ‘improve the visibility of vaccinations’ delivered by GPs and other providers and help ‘ensure a consistent view’ of a patient’s vaccination status.
‘Within our digital changes, a key target will be to ensure timely and accurate data is available from GPs and other providers, to ensure a consistent view of uptake across all vaccination services,’ the document said.
‘Visibility of this data at national, regional and local level will support planning of targeted outreach services, building on the approach for COVID-19 and flu.’
The document also said: ‘We will undertake cost–benefit analysis, in partnership with DHSC, UKHSA and NHS Supply Chain, to explore whether centralising the procurement and supply of adult flu vaccine could deliver better outcomes and address the existing clinical, operational and financial challenges associated with local procurement.’
The commissioner will explore options to revise regulations that may widen opportunities for experienced, non-prescribing healthcare professionals to vaccinate by allowing delegation of vaccination to unregistered staff.
NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: ‘The NHS covid-19 vaccination programme has delivered over 156 million Covid jabs and saved tens of thousands of lives – our vision for the future of vaccinations published today sets out how we plan to build on this huge success and save even more lives.
‘Through the NHS app, we’ll make sure booking a jab can be as easy as booking a cab so millions more people can get vaccinated – users will be able to access their full vaccine status in a matter of seconds and book jabs with a simple swipe and tap.
‘And we’ll continue to expand the amazing work of NHS staff, volunteers and partners to introduce even more pop-up sites in the heart of our local communities. So, when you are invited for any of your vaccinations, please do book without delay – it could be lifesaving.’
Health minister Maria Caulfield said: ‘To ensure as many people get vaccinated as possible, we need to make sure the programme fits around people’s lives.
‘The Vaccine Strategy will build on the brilliant work already underway to make it easier than ever to get vaccinated and to reach people who would not typically come forward for their jabs.
‘Whether it’s booking via the app or stopping in while at parents evening with your children – we are unveiling new, innovative ways of getting these lifesaving jabs and easing pressure on the NHS.
‘Get on the NHS App and see just how easy it is to get your jab.’
Dr Farzana Hussain, a GP in Newham, East London, said: ‘I’m pleased to see the publication of the NHS vaccination strategy and the emphasis it puts on convenient access.
‘We need to build on the successful and established ways of offering vaccines, looking to what works and what else we can do to evolve and innovate for the protection of our communities and particularly our underserved groups.’
Last year, NHS England invited GPs to share their views on plans for the strategy, saying it expected Covid jabs to become a ‘seasonal service’.
In the past GPs warned about the impact of potentially losing vaccination services, with a ‘serious loss of income’ for practices.
Government plans for a ‘national vaccination service’ were first revealed in January last year, when then health secretary Sajid Javid told MPs it was needed to ensure GPs are not asked to stop routine care again, as they did during the Covid vaccination programme.
This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.