Commissioning flu vaccines through community pharmacy continues to divide doctors as the decision is backed by the New NHS Alliance but remains challenged by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Dr Mark Spencer, New NHS Alliance co-chair, said the association supported the move but described the competition between GPs and pharmacists for resources as “madness”.

Meanwhile the BMA has called for a full review of the scheme in the coming winter and says that if there is not an increase in uptake the service should be taken away from pharmacists.

NHS England announced that community pharmacists will once again administer the jabs after nearly a quarter of a million more people benefitted from vaccinations in a community pharmacy setting during the winter of 2015/16.

“The formal view of the Alliance is that we support it but there is a big caveat - the reason we support it is that the more people who get the flu vaccination the better,” said Dr Spencer.

“That’s the good side and why we support it but the issues that we have is that this needs to be done in a very integrated way.

“We need to come up with a solution where practices and local pharmacies can deliver this in a very joint and integrated manner so the public can get the best of both worlds and we’re not setting up GPs and pharmacists to compete for resources.

“That’s just madness.”

Following the news last week, a spokesperson for the BMA said the decision to recommission the vaccine through pharmacy was one “many GPs will be surprised at”.

The Pharmacist sought clarification of its position in light of the New NHS Alliance stance was told: “Essentially we are just not completely convinced the effectiveness has been shown through the way it has performed and we have asked NHS England to keep this under review.”

The position of the trade association is not new, the spokesperson said, adding: “The research is just not there.”

A total of 10,407,913 seasonal flu vaccinations were delivered, including 240,259 additional patients who chose to receive vaccinations in a community pharmacy compared to the previous year.

The number of the most vulnerable patients receiving flu vaccination – those in an ‘at risk’ category and pregnant women – also increased, despite the mild winter.