Open access article
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.
To learn more about coronavirus, please visit: https://www.rpharms.com/coronavirus
Community pharmacy-led COVID-19 vaccination sites in England will receive part of a £20m government pot to pay for additional workforce, NHS England has said.
In a letter sent on 10 June 2021, NHS England said sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and integrated care systems (ICSs) would receive a total of £20m to boost staff numbers at GP and community pharmacy-led COVID-19 vaccination sites between 16 June 2021 and 14 July 2021.
The ring-fenced funding will be distributed based on the number of vaccination sites in each local area, equating to approximately £14,600 per site “to provide an average of seven additional staff (including some from the volunteer bank) for the four-week period”.
“This will bring in extra workforce to support the recovery of NHS services and another busy and crucial period for the COVID-19 vaccination deployment programme,” the letter says, adding that it is “vital” to deliver first and second doses “as quickly as supply allows so as to mitigate the risks of variants”.
On 14 May 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation announced that second doses of COVID-19 vaccinations would be brought forward from 12 to 8 weeks in England for those in the most vulnerable cohorts to protect against variants.
However, the letter notes that in order for community pharmacy-led sites to access the additional funding, they will need to have administered “all COVID-19 vaccines delivered to them within a week of the vaccines being delivered” and ensure “as many second dose slots as possible are opened up”.
NHS England asked STP and ICS leaders to work with lead employers at the vaccination sites “to ensure this funding is deployed where it is most needed to increase uptake and tackle health inequalities”.
“Lead employers can assist with the provision of different types of roles such as registered healthcare professionals and unregistered vaccinators,” the letter says.
“These may be people that have been recruited through local recruitment activities or drawn down from the national workforce suppliers.”
It adds that all sites should “consider implementing the national protocol as the mechanism for delivering vaccines” to make the best use of the available workforce.
In December 2020, the government published a national protocol that enabled non-registered vaccinators to administer COVID-19 vaccines with training and clinical supervision.