Flu vac: service spec published
- The flu vaccination service specification has been published by NHSE&I;
- The national Patient Group Direction (PGD) will be published shortly;
- A national protocol to support provision of flu vaccinations is proposed, but is yet to be confirmed;
- The service will commence on Wednesday 1st September 2021*; and
- The flexibilities agreed as part of last season’s provision of the service continue, allowing for vaccinations off-site and outside the consultation room.
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have this evening (2nd August 2021) published the service specification for the 2021/22 Community Pharmacy Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Advanced Service.
Publication of this document formally starts the countdown to the commencement of what is expected to be the largest ever community pharmacy flu vaccination programme on Wednesday 1st September 2021*.
Changes to legal frameworks
The PGD is going through the final stages of the sign-off process at Public Health England, following which it will be published.
This year, the PGD will be able to be used by an appropriately trained practitioner to provide the Advanced service. This will therefore allow contractors to use other healthcare professions listed in the PGD (e.g. nurses) to provide the service under the supervision of a pharmacist.
NHSE&I have also confirmed that they are looking to have a National Protocol in place to support the flu vaccination programme for 2021/22. A national protocol has already been used by many pharmacies participating in the COVID-19 vaccination programme. It could be used by contractors as an alternative to the PGD, where they are able to make use of the skill mix flexibilities allowed by the protocol.
The final decision on authorising use of a national protocol is made by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. At the time of publishing this news story, a protocol has yet to be published. If a protocol is published, an announcement on this will be provided to contractors via this website.
Flexible approaches to service provision
Last year, PSNC agreed a range of changes to the service requirements to reduce the burden on contractors and to help them provide the service at a greater scale than before and in a COVID-safe manner. These flexibilities were enduring changes and so contractors can continue to provide:
- Vaccination in the pharmacy, outside the consultation room, but elsewhere within the premises, where this supports better social distancing and it can be undertaken in a way which maintains patient safety and confidentiality;
- Off-site provision, for example in locations that may provide greater space for patients, greater ability to manage patient flow to maintain social distancing and better waiting facilities in the event of poor weather. The sites could include:
- Marquees outside the pharmacy premises;
- Local village, town or community halls;
- Church halls, temples or mosques;
- Adapted mobile units such as buses or vans;
- Car parks; and
- Sports halls / Stadiums.
- Care homes – contractors will continue to be able to vaccinate patients and staff in care homes.
The pre-existing flexibility which allows vaccination of patients in their own homes continues.
Funding for the service comes from the NHS vaccination budget and is in addition to and outside of global sum funding for 2021/22. For the 2021/22 season the service fee remains at £9.58 plus the cost of the vaccine.
NHSE&I have confirmed for those contractors providing off-site flu vaccinations will be able to apply for a contribution towards reasonable additional costs. Details of how to apply for such funding have yet to be published by NHSE&I, but they are expected to mirror arrangements that were in place for the 2020/21 flu season. An announcement on this and the process to make claims will be provided to contractors when they are confirmed via the usual channels.
Commenting on the publication of the service documentation, Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services, PSNC said:
“If all goes as the Government hopes, this year the flu vaccination programme will once again break records for the number of people protected against flu. Pharmacy teams played a major role in the growth in vaccinations administered last year and I know they will be keen to repeat that success in 2021/22, helping reduce the risk to individuals and supporting the wider NHS winter effort.
“This year patients are at risk from flu and COVID-19, so it is important that they are able to access relevant vaccinations as early as possible; contractors will want to ensure they offer flu vaccination to patients as soon as supplies become available.
“The Committee is disappointed that the hard work undertaken by contractors and their teams last year and the increasing costs they are experiencing in providing services has not been recognised by NHSE&I in an increase in the funding for the service this season. PSNC will continue to make the case to the NHS for increased funding for the service in future years.”
Further details on the service and guidance
PSNC has published a Briefing to provide additional guidance and support to contractors on the 2021/22 Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Advanced Service.
Further information on the service, guidance and resources can be found via our Flu Vaccination Hub page.
* The legal basis for the provision of the service is within the Secretary of State Directions; the Department of Health and Social Care will make amendments to these to authorise the 2021/22 service. These amendments must be made prior to the commencement of the service and PSNC will inform contractors when the amendment Directions have been signed and published.