The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) are urging pharmacists and GPs to work together this winter to deliver the expanded flu programme.  

The bodies have agreed a list of principles and recommendations for healthcare staff, to ensure those who need a flu vaccination this season are able to get one.

The list outlines a collaborative approach, which the bodies say is crucial for putting patient care first and ensuring possible competition between healthcare providers does ‘not impact negatively on GP or pharmacy practice’ or lead to ‘unnecessary tensions’.

‘Healthcare professionals providing flu vaccination should focus on person-centred care and act in a professional manner towards each other. They must not issue any information that unfairly or inaccurately represents the service provided by other commissioned providers,’ the bodies said.

‘Avoid duplication’

RPS and RCGP also recommended that the NHS establish information systems nationally that allow pharmacists and GPs to share data and help prevent any duplication of vaccinations.

‘These systems should not increase the workload for healthcare professionals or their staff,’ they added.

Sandra Gidley, RPS president said: ‘With winter pressures and Covid-19, this year it’s more important than ever that pharmacists and GPs work together so everyone who needs a flu vaccination can get one.

‘This needs to be supported by adequate resources, the right information systems, and ensuring staff can work safely.’

Dr Jonathan Leach, RCGP joint honorary secretary, added: ‘As we continue to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s vital that we protect as many people as possible from the flu, particularly those in at-risk groups, such as older people, pregnant women and patients with long-term conditions and learning difficulties, and reduce the pressures on the health system.

‘General practice and community pharmacy sit at the heart of communities. By working together across primary care, we can ensure that vulnerable individuals are able to access the protection which the flu vaccine affords.’

Earlier this month, the Pharmacist reported that pharmacies in England have already experienced delivery delays from a major flu vaccine provider.