Publication approval reference: 001559 / C0938
To: GP practices
CC: Clinical commissioning groups and regional directors/RDRCPH
4 December 2020
Further to our letter of 1 December, we are writing to update you on the crucial role of general practice in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The NHS will be the first healthcare system in the world to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to those most at risk. We recognise the scale and the complexity of this vaccination programme make it one of the greatest challenges the NHS has ever faced, and we are grateful for your continued efforts.
It is crucial we start to activate local vaccination services to allow priority patient cohorts to start accessing the vaccine.
We expect to stand up a number of designated local vaccination services (the first based on PCN groupings) to start administering COVID-19 vaccinations in the week beginning 14 December. This first wave of sites will be the beginning of a general mobilisation of practices from their designated sites.
Each site stood up would need to deliver 975 doses to priority patients during the week beginning 14 December – those in the over 80 cohort who can attend the site for vaccination, and taking into account other significant factors, clinical or otherwise, which may increase risk. The vaccine would need to be used quickly in the days following delivery. We can guarantee 3.5 days of vaccination following delivery, with storage at 2-8°C.
We are working closely with CCGs to identify sites that will be ready to deliver vaccinations in that week; the number of sites coming on stream initially will vary by CCG according to the proportion of its population over 80, reflecting the priority groups selected by JCVI. CCGs have been asked to consider inequalities and deprivation when selecting sites.
We will be writing to sites identified as part of Wave 1 on Monday, setting out full details of vaccine supply dates, delivery of other consumables and equipment to the site, and the process for assuring readiness before delivery of vaccines. This will include a delivery of IT equipment necessary to deliver the programme and a fridge for each site. Access to necessary training will be provided and sites will be given full support to mobilise within the timescale. We will provide early sites with logins to the necessary IT platforms as soon as possible; including a management information system called Foundry.
We will keep you informed when we are able to stand up further PCN sites.
We have today republished the Enhanced Service Specification for the programme with two small changes reflecting ongoing discussions with the MHRA, and have published a template Collaboration Agreement which must be in place between collaborating practices in a PCN grouping before operations begin from the site. These documents have been agreed with the BMA. We would be grateful for your early sign up to the Enhanced Service.
It remains critical that CCGs offer all possible assistance to PCN designated sites standing up in the first and subsequent waves. This includes ensuring specific things like clinical waste arrangements are appropriately extended and in place, as well as supporting with readiness and logistics as required to make this programme a success.
The nature of the vaccine being deployed initially means we will need to focus effort to ensure effective delivery. While urgent care will need to continue to be provided across general practice, for the days on which vaccine is being delivered from these sites, this programme will be the top priority. Throughout this programme we urge full use is made of additional workforce options and mutual aid is in place between providers across primary care, co-ordinated by CCGs, to ensure that vaccine uptake is maximised with minimal wastage. The £150m capacity funding remains available to primary care to help ensure sufficient capacity is in place across general practice to manage competing demands. CCGs will prioritise its timely use as required to facilitate this programme.
This is a hugely exciting moment for general practice and you who will be playing a key part in this important programme.
Dr Nikita Kanani | Medical Director for Primary Care | NHS England and NHS Improvement
Ed Waller | Director of Primary Care | NHS England and NHS Improvement