Pharmacists and GPs should work together to make sure as many people as possible get their flu vaccination this winter, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have said.
Alongside a series of joint recommendations, published on 21 September 2020, the two bodies said that delivering the “biggest flu vaccination programme in history” will need a collaborative approach between the two sectors.
It is crucial to put patients first and ensure that any competition between the sectors “does not impact negatively on GP or pharmacy practice, or lead to unnecessary tensions between the professions”, they added.
Among their recommendations, the two bodies said that local stakeholders — including local medical committees, local pharmaceutical committees, NHS boards and local health boards — should “work together to plan flu vaccinations in their area”.
They also said that the NHS should set up nationwide information systems “to enable the flow of data between community pharmacies and general practice”. The latter, the two bodies said, will prevent any duplication of vaccinations.
The recommendations added that healthcare professionals should act in a professional manner towards each other, and not issue any information that “unfairly or inaccurately represents the service provided by other commissioned providers”.
The two bodies also emphasised that the government must ensure sufficient supplies of vaccines to deliver the expanded programme, and that NHS bodies must ensure staff have adequate personal protective equipment.
Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS, said that the combination of winter pressures and the COVID-19 pandemic mean that “this year it’s more important than ever that pharmacists and GPs work together so everyone who needs a flu vaccination can get one.
“This needs to be supported by adequate resources, the right information systems and ensuring staff can work safely.”
Jonathan Leach, joint honorary secretary of the RCGP, said that “general practice and community pharmacy sit at the heart of communities.
“By working together across primary care, we can ensure that vulnerable individuals are able to access the protection which the flu vaccine affords.”