Department of Health and Social Care
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News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 14 September 2009

The upcoming swine flu vaccination programme will be administered by GPs following successful negotiations between the Department of Health, General Practitioners Committee (GPC) of the British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS Employers, Andy Burnham announced today.

The vaccination programme, which is expected to begin in the autumn, subject to the vaccine being licensed, will target the nine million people most at risk from complications. The vaccine will reduce the number of people needing hospital and intensive care treatment and save the NHS money in the long run.

The new deal will mean that GP surgeries will receive £5.25 per dose of vaccine given. The additional money will come from the Department of Health budget and will help surgeries to contact patients, administer the vaccine and, if necessary, take on extra staff.

It is currently expected that patients will receive two doses of the vaccine. This advice may change following clinical trials.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said:

“This is great news for patients.

“We have used this welcome breathing space over the summer, to make sure that we are prepared for the forthcoming winter flu-season. Senior health advisors reported to me last week that the NHS is able to double its critical care capacity, and we have now finalised plans for the delivery of the vaccine.

“The vaccine is the best line of defence against this virus and I would strongly urge all of those in the at-risk groups, as well as frontline health and social care workers to have the vaccine. All at-risk groups will be able to receive the vaccine in the familiar surroundings of their own surgery and we can begin offering it to people as soon as it has been licensed by the European regulators.

"I am glad that we have reached a fair deal with the GPC and I am pleased that GPs will continue to play a key role in the fight against swine flu. They have already worked incredibly hard in what have been very difficult circumstances to help their patients. This deal represents good value for money as the vaccine programme will reduce the number of people who will need hospital treatment.”

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s GPs Committee, said:

“We are pleased we have reached a national agreement as we believe this is the best way to deliver the vaccine to the at risk population. This will be a lot of additional work for practices, but general practice is used to running large vaccination programmes. We are confident that GPs and their teams will have the resources they need in order to run the swine flu vaccination programme smoothly and efficiently.”

Dame Barbara Hakin, NHS Employers lead negotiator, said:

“We are extremely pleased that we have reached an agreement with the GPC on the UK-wide arrangements that will enable the effective delivery of the swine flu vaccination to those patients identified as being at risk. This agreement will help primary care services across the UK to provide vaccinations effectively and is a step forward in national preparedness against swine flu. GPs have an absolutely crucial role to play in the plans to combat swine flu and I am confident that they will carry out this role extremely well.”

The following groups will be prioritised in this order (numbers given are approximate and are for England only):

People aged over six months and under 65 years in current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups (about 5 million people). All pregnant women, subject to licensing conditions on trimesters (about 0.5 million people).Household contacts of people with compromised immune systems e.g. people in regular close contact with patients on treatment for cancer (about 0.5 million people).People aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups (about 3.5 million people). This does not include otherwise healthy over 65s, since they appear to have some natural immunity to the virus.

Further details of the agreement include (see Editor’s Notes for the full details):

the Quality Outcomes Framework (QOF) will not change for 2010-2011;if GPs achieve a given uptake in vaccination (the precise level still under discussion), the thresholds for achievement of QOF indicators on patient experience will be lowered; and the collection date for data on childhood immunisations to be delayed by six weeks to mid February to allow practices time to carry out the swine flu vaccination programme.

Notes to Editors

1. NHS Employers and the GPC have agreed the following to support the implementation of the UK swine flu vaccination programme for those patients recently identified by the Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) for vaccination.

a. Payment to practices - £5.25 per dose of vaccination given.
b. The collection date for data on childhood immunisations to be delayed by six weeks to mid February to allow practices time to carry out the swine flu vaccination programme.
c. Local enhanced services (LES) funding will not be withdrawn to fund the vaccination programme.
d. District nurses will vaccinate all the housebound in line with the seasonal flu arrangements.
e. Practices vaccinating a higher percentage of 'at risk' swine flu patients (a minimum of 3% increase), compared to the 2008/09 UK uptake of seasonal flu, will be granted a 10% drop in the upper and 20% drop in the lower thresholds of Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) indicators PE7 and PE8 in 2009/10.
f. No change will be made to the Quality and Outcomes Framework, which is used to rewards GPs for high quality care, for 2010-2011. Also indicators recommended by NICE for retirement (28 points) will be released in 2011-2012. NICE will then pilot suggested new indicators and if appropriate, will include them in their recommendations for future indicators.

2. The vaccination programme is expected to begin in the autumn, subject to the vaccine being licensed by the European Medicines Agency. The agency has strict processes in place for licensing pandemic vaccines. The vaccine will not be used until it is licensed. Manufacturers anticipate that licenses may be granted in October. Vaccination will commence as soon as possible once licences are granted.

3. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation reviewed the evidence and advised the Department of Health on the crucial risk groups to be offered vaccination in order to reduce the rate or possibility of serious illness.

4. This advice was also scrutinised and endorsed by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

5. Decisions on vaccinating the wider healthy population will depend on the evolution of the pandemic as well as new and emerging clinical data on the use of the vaccine. This will be kept under close review.

6. The Department of Health (DH) has placed orders for sufficient H1N1 swine flu vaccine for the UK population. The orders are with GSK and with Baxter.

For more information please contact the Department of Health Press Office newsdesk on: 0207 210 5221.


Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221

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