Community pharmacies in England should be commissioned to deliver all adult vaccinations through National Enhanced Services, the think tank Policy Exchange has recommended.

In a report published yesterday, it envisioned a larger role for community pharmacy in the delivery of vaccinations in England, including commissioning the sector to deliver more vaccinations and allowing access to patient records to support ‘opportunistic vaccination’ in the community.

Policy Exchange also suggested bolstering workforce capacity by allowing pharmacy technicians to deliver vaccinations through a Patient Group Direction, and giving pharmacy, nursing and medical students the option of delivering seasonal vaccinations where appropriate.

It said that 12,000 pharmacy students, 90,000 nursing students and 35-40,000 medical students currently in universities in England should  be ‘asked to volunteer to administer’ Covid and flu jabs by being deployed to GP surgeries and community pharmacy during seasonal rollout campaigns.

Likewise, more routes should be created for experienced pharmacists, nurses and GPs to re-enter does the workforce and undertake vaccination work.

The report also urged NHS England to announce vaccine collaboratives pilots in integrated care systems to join up pharmacy, general practice, PCNs and other providers.

In these collaboratives, the £10.06 item of service fee would be replaced by a population-based contract to the collaborative, with the objective to ‘pool resources most efficiently, free up clinical time for other activity and improve uptake amongst underserved populations’.

To support this, Policy Exchange recommended that all providers commissioned to deliver vaccinations should have access to the relevant section of a patient’s health records to enable users to view their immunisation records and enable joint controllership of data with GPs.

It explained: ‘In primary care, we need to move to a point where data is reliable and freely shared across pharmacy and general practice. This would be a transformation from the status quo. GPs have been wary of sharing patient data, often due to legitimate concerns.’

Thorrun Govind, RPS English Pharmacy Board chair, said she hopes that ‘many’ of the ‘practical proposals’ in the report will be ‘taken forward’.

She added: ‘Driving vaccine uptake across the life course will require concerted effort across Government and the NHS. It is heartening therefore to see proposals which look to encourage the conditions for community pharmacy to do more.’

Malcolm Harrison, CCA chief executive, said: ‘We welcome this timely report from Policy Exchange which recognises the important - and growing - contribution that community pharmacy plays in delivering national vaccination programmes. We have long campaigned for community pharmacies to be the natural home for all vaccinations.

‘From commissioning community pharmacy to administer more vaccinations, enabling pharmacy technicians to administer them and improving accessibility to patient records – Policy Exchange has produced a range of credible ideas here which ought to be taken forward.’

This comes after the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) argued that commissioning a wider range of NHS vaccinations from pharmacies ‘could lead to increased vaccination levels’.