- Posted Monday March 22, 2021
Now there seems to be a plan to alter again the way we work and the approach to the vaccine rollout.
Apparently, PCN’s had until last Friday (19th March) to decide whether they want to continue offering the Covid vaccines to the under 50s or we can opt-out by giving the formal notice required.
There is talk that the supply of vaccines is being ramped up, but while we are expected to resume our normal QOF work from April 1st, and yet enhanced service income will be protected for quarter1.
The NHS has rolled out the vaccines in a professional and slick way and we as PCN’s have risen to the challenge and as a result we have a world-beating vaccine programme.
So why try and alter the programme now when we are still amid the pandemic? I think there are several factors and questions to consider;
- If PCNs do decide in a mass to opt out, how is the NHS going to provide the vaccines? Do they have the resources, or are they saying that under 50s are not as important to be vaccinated then the over 50s?
- Is all the hard work over the last 12 months going to be sacrificed to try and save money, and what effect will it have on virus numbers consequently? The £150million support package to practices will finish at the end of March. This money helped off-set costs and helped backfill many roles.
- Has thought been given to the 2nd doses needed and the risk that - if PCNs pull out in large numbers - patients may have to travel miles to be vaccinated, or may not bother altogether?
- Will starting QOF work in April be welcomed by patients? I do feel that patients in general are still reluctant to contact the surgery for routine matters, but I do think that when many people are vaccinated it is then we will see a return in bigger numbers.
As you can see, in some ways I look at all this and say 'why upset the applecart and alter a programme that has gone so well and beaten deadlines in both time and numbers - is someone trying to sabotage all that has been achieved so far?
Our PCN discussed the whole situation about carrying on with vaccine programme and there were mixed views across the practices - concerns about costs, having the time to do all the normal work, resuming full QOF services, and yet there was another view that it did not sit right to pull out of the vital vaccination programme.
Is the NHS banking on us all continuing so they can reduce the costs, which (against what has already been spent) is a mere drop in the ocean?
It is not too late for the NHS to backtrack and resume the support to practices to continue for the next 3/6 months when everyone will have been offered the vaccine and we can then resume normal working.