Concerns over gaps in flu jab availability
Lancashire's health watchdog has raised concerns that four out of 10 county pharmacies did not offer the winter flu jab.
After campaigning work by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, NHS England decided that all community pharmacies should be allowed to vaccinate patients in at-risk groups against flu.
But after 17 volunteers carried out a “mystery shopping activity” at 221 pharmacies in the county during December and January, Healthwatch Lancashire found 38 per cent stated that the vaccination was not available and 15 per cent of those that did offer it said they would not inform a person’s GP when issued.
On its website, the PSNC states: “When pharmacy teams provide the Flu Vaccination Advanced Service, notifying the patient’s GP practice is an important service requirement. This is firstly because it is important that the patient’s GP has a full record of vaccinations their patients have received, but also because Public Health England’s ImmForm system uses GP records to assess the total number of people who have been vaccinated against flu each year.
“Contractors must ensure that a notification of vaccination is sent to the patient’s GP practice on the same day the vaccine is administered.”
The findings were shared with NHS England, who have vowed to learn lessons and improve the service.
Sheralee Turner-Birchall, Healthwatch Lancashire’s chief officer, stated: “Healthwatch Lancashire would like to thank NHS England for their positive response to our mystery shopping report and for stating that they intend to engage with local pharmacists to improve patient experience and access to the flu vaccination programme.”
Eligible people include those aged 65 and over, pregnant women and people with chronic health complaints.