More than 100,000 patients will not be able to receive the Covid vaccine from their GP after their GP surgeries decided not to participate in its implementation, The Guardian may reveal.
Dozens of GPs in England have chosen not to join the NHS rollout of the vaccine amid fears that their workload is already too heavy, they are too understaffed, and that patients may suffer if clinics are overloaded. They have to cut other services so that doctors can administer treatment. hits.
His reluctance to inoculate patients threatens to overshadow the start of the second phase of the vaccine launch, which is due to begin next week, with the participation of GPs for the first time.
The Guardian has established that various practices in Manchester, Sussex, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and the Thames Valley have chosen not to be part of the launch. The local NHS will have to arrange for patients registered for all of these surgeries to be vaccinated elsewhere.
While GPs are delighted that the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine is available, many are also concerned about how they will set up vaccination clinics from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, as they are required to do under the terms. of the contract that covers your participation. that NHS England negotiated with the British Medical Association, the doctors union.
A new rule requiring each vaccine recipient to be monitored for 15 minutes, introduced by NHS England after two hospital workers suffered an allergic reaction when launch began Tuesday, has also caused some surgeries to go uninvolved.
Many GPs are torn between their desire to immunize patients to save lives and the practical difficulties that participation will bring. Their feelings are also compounded by not wanting to be seen to undermine public confidence in or access to the vaccine.
Discontent in Manchester is so great that two primary care networks (PCNs), or clusters of practices, in the city – which between them have more than 100,000 patients – have decided not to participate. One, Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall PCN, involves eight surgeries that between them have about 56,000 patients on their rosters. The other, Higher Blackley, Harpurhey, and Charlestown PCN, comprises nine surgeries that have about 46,000 patients.
“We are already struggling to staff our surgeries, so how are we going to staff to do the vaccines? And how can we reduce other services, to free up staff time to vaccinate people, without compromising patient safety? “said a GP at Cheetham Hill and Crumpsall.
Primary care services in England are delivered through around 7,000 organized surgeries in 1,260 PCNs. Family physicians in around 250 PCNs will begin vaccinating patients next week. They will join the 70 ‘hospital centers’ across the UK that started delivering the vaccine to people over 80, nursing home staff and NHS staff with underlying health problems last Tuesday.
Dr. Julia Patterson, director of Everydoctor, an NHS grassroots network of physicians, said: “I have not spoken to a single doctor who does not want to be involved in launching the vaccine; Medical professionals are well aware of the importance of vaccines. However, PCNs in some areas may simply be forced to opt out in order to maintain normal services for patients and keep their patients safe this winter. “
There is also concern that once a surgery has been recorded, the length of the contract (nine months) could mean that patients could have a difficult time accessing care during that time.
A letter from GPs at a surgery in Lincolnshire stated that the “inflexible” contract and the ability of the NHS England to unilaterally impose new conditions during launch “pose a real risk to the safe and essential general medical services we provide to our clients. patients, for the well-being of our colleagues and the financial stability of GP practices ”.
Pulse, a news website for GPs, reported Thursday that the The 15 minute observation rule had prompted North East Derbyshire PCN to withdraw of the scheme.
The Royal College of GPs recognized the challenge GPs face and the strain in their ranks.
Professor Martin Marshall, its President, said: “It is going to be a huge challenge, given the workload and the challenges of the workforce that GPs and our teams currently work in… Given these challenges, we understand why some practices have felt that they cannot enroll. But there has been an excellent response from the large number of practices capable and willing to participate ”.
An NHS spokesperson said: “As stated and supported by the BMA, general practices will deliver the vaccine from designated sites within primary care networks, where it is safe and practical to do so. There has been a fantastic response from the British GP who signed up to do it.
“Given the known logistical challenges of delivering this particular vaccine, GPs like others across the NHS are now responding quickly to make the necessary arrangements for this to happen.”
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