Our pharmacy’s car-park pop-up flu vaccine service proves that setting competition with GPs aside can benefit patients

Our pharmacy's car-park pop-up flu vaccine service proves that setting competition with GPs aside can benefit patients

As soon as the flu vaccine season started in early September, I began to think about what our pharmacy — the Chelmsley Wood ASDA pharmacy in Solihull — could do to increase uptake.

It’s an exceptional year and, although at our pharmacy we haven’t had any flu vaccine stock issues, I know there have been stock availability issues for GP practices. We wanted to do what we could for our patients locally — I was aware that we could help the GP practices deliver flu vaccines to their patients.

My initial plan was to suggest a joint clinic with the GP practices in my local primary care network (PCN) — North Solihull Collaborative PCN. I knew that they were looking at running an off-site clinic at one of the local schools, which I had thought we could participate in. I decided to take my idea to the PCN clinical directors.

They told me that the PCN had access to an NHS-liveried van kitted out with a fridge, handwashing facilities, tablespace and heating, funded by Birmingham and Solihull clinical commissioning group. The idea was to park the van in the ASDA carpark, close to the entrance, for one day, with patients booked in to receive their flu jab from one of our pharmacists.

It was not the easiest plan to set in motion, simply because we were trying to do something completely new and different. Part of the challenge was to get the message across to GP partners that we’re not trying to compete for flu vaccinations; we’re trying to increase the overall uptake. It was a difficult conversation to start with.

But I know that my colleagues at the PCN did a fantastic job at getting that message across, and the GP practices sent a message to all of their patients in the aged 65 years and over cohort, who hadn’t yet received a flu jab, to let them know of this new opportunity to book in.

On the day, we ran the clinic from 9am to 3pm and administered 75 flu jabs. One pharmacist and two colleagues managed the patient flow well. We had initially allocated four minutes per vaccine but given the peaks and troughs in patient presentation, we vaccinated one patient every five minutes. Had the flow of patients been consistent, we could even have achieved double this volume, vaccinating 150 patients over six hours.

We had a total of 150 vaccines in stock for those aged over 65 years, plus a further 50 for patients aged under 65 years, if needed. The vaccines were provided through ASDA and claimed for — as usual — through PharmOutcomes. The GP practices will be able claim quality outcomes framework points for the vaccinations too.

The day wasn’t without its problems, however. One of the main issues we faced was data entry, as there was no access outside the pharmacy to PharmOutcomes, which would have really helped. Being without it meant we had to use a paper-based system in the van, and enter in the data later. 

I have had great support from the PCN in developing this plan. They sent a student nurse to help with the admin on the day; one of the things I’ve learned from this process is that it requires a lot of goodwill from everyone involved to get it off the ground.

I would hope that this sort of collaboration could continue, although I’m not sure we will be able to sustain it without some increased funding to cover pharmacist costs. As we’re off-site, there is no funding in the model to cover backfill costs for the pharmacy, so this is something that will need to be looked at going forward.

But it would be great for a similar arrangement to take place for those aged over 50 years, if and when that is given the go-ahead as an NHS flu vaccination cohort; and also for COVID-19 vaccinations. The ASDA car park has a really high footfall and it’s a place where younger patients tend to be out and about. It would be a great way to reach those who don’t necessarily go to the GP routinely.

David Gallier-Harris, pharmacy manager, Chelmsley Wood ASDA pharmacy, Solihull

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Our pharmacy's car-park pop-up flu vaccine service proves that setting competition with GPs aside can benefit patients;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20208492

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