Matt Hancock has been asked by an MP to act to help minimise competition between community pharmacies and GP practices over flu jabs and to encourage them to work together to help achieve the flu programme this year.
Speaking at the House of Commons yesterday (2 September), Conservative MP Nigel Mills, asked Matt Hancock to try to find a way of ‘incentivising [GPs and pharmacists] to work together and to stop fighting for every jab’.
The health secretary offered to speak to Mr Mills privately about any ‘specific problems he has found’ relating to competition between the two sectors.
‘We have got to make sure that [the flu vaccine programme] happens as effectively as possible,’ Mr Hancock said.
He added that it is ‘incredibly important that pharmacists, as well as GPs and others, are able to make the flu jab available’.
This comes almost a week after NHS England published the service specification for community pharmacy flu vaccine programme, which outlined several key changes from last year.
The new guidance does not specify how much contractors will be paid for providing the vaccination service this year.
This winter, pharmacists and other health professionals will deliver a flu vaccination programme larger than ever before. In England alone, 30 million patients are being targeted, with more schoolchildren, the over 50s, and shielded patients and their households among the new cohorts eligible for a free vaccine.
Earlier this week, pharmacists expressed concerns that pharmacy may not see an increase in patients this winter, despite the expanded cohort for the flu vaccine.