Primary care workers, including pharmacists and GPs, should collaborate rather than compete to boost influenza vaccine uptake, according to David Bearman, chair of Devon Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC).
Bearman was speaking following the completion of a Pfizer-sponsored six-month pilot collaboration between the Beacon Medical Group, which covers 33,000 patients across five GP surgeries in Plymouth, Devon LPC, and local branches of Boots, Well Pharmacy and Day Lewis. The programme aimed to increase flu vaccination uptake by building reciprocal links between GPs and pharmacists, so patients could get their vaccination wherever it was easiest for them rather than having to make an appointment with their GP practice.
The programme also included community-based vaccination clinics located in easily accessible town centre venues including libraries.
Competition between pharmacists and GPs to deliver the seasonal flu vaccination has forced NHS managers in one part of the country to write to both professions urging them not to undermine each other’s vaccination service.
Vaccination uptake was higher in the area covered by the integration programme, compared with the wider Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) region. In the Beacon area respiratory group, 52.4% of patients received a vaccine during the project compared with 43.20% in the CCG as a whole; and 55.3% of children aged between two and five years received a vaccine in the Beacon area compared with 17.60% across the CCG.
A local media campaign, including posters in GP practices and pharmacies and local newspaper editorials, promoted the idea that the vaccine could be accessed in a range of settings.
“The essence of the project was, and continues to be, to ensure that patients are able to see the most appropriate person, in the most appropriate setting at the right time,” Bearman said.
“Working collaboratively rather than in competition has led to better outcomes for pharmacies, practices, and importantly, the health of our community.”
“We have worked together with a view to building a sustainable future in which pharmacies and practices can flourish, and maximise the financial flows to the clinical community. This is preferable to fighting for our share and, in so doing, having a detrimental effect on our long-term future.”