Questions have been raised over whether the deal brokered by GPs and the government to deliver swine flu vaccination represents “good value for money”.
Current plans are for two vaccine doses to be given per patient, meaning GPs could earn £10.50 for giving a full course of vaccine. However latest trial data from vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline suggests one dose may be enough to provide immunity.
The deal includes a further incentive for GPs. Practices vaccinating a higher percentage of “at risk” swine flu patients (a minimum of 3 per cent), compared to the 2008-09 UK uptake of seasonal flu, will be granted a drop in the lower thresholds of quality and outcomes indicators for patient experience.
Health secretary Andy Burnham said: “I am glad that we have reached a fair deal with the GPC. This deal represents good value for money as the vaccine programme will reduce the number of people who will need hospital treatment.”
But one PCT director of contracting said: “I find it unbelievable that NHS Employers and the Department of Health think they have got a good deal having negotiated to pay GPs £5.25 for every swine flu vaccination they – or more likely their practice nurses – administer.
“When is someone going to stand up and tell GPs this is exactly the type of basic healthcare for which they are already remunerated admirably to provide for their registered patients?” he added.
The immunisation programme is expected to begin in October, subject to the vaccine being licensed by the European Medicines Agency. The Department of Health has previously published a list of “at risk” patient groups, along with healthcare staff, who should be prioritised to receive the vaccine.