GPs axe some appointments to give jabs
PATIENTS WILL STILL BE SEEN DEPENDING ON CLINICAL NEED
GP practices have announced they will be postponing and rescheduling some appointments to increase the roll-out of the Covid vaccine booster.
The clinical commissioning groups for Leicester, West Leicestershire and East Leicestershire and Rutland have agreed to throw their weight behind the drive for booster jabs over the festive period.
The NHS wants to offer a booster to all over-18s by the end of the year, while also maintaining urgent, emergency and cancer care.
About 125,000 vaccines will be given out a week in Leicestershire and Rutland, two-and-a-half times more than originally planned.
However, GPs are being asked to ensure services are maintained for those with the highest needs.
Dr Nil Sanganee, a GP in Ashby, said: “There is a lot we need to consider in response to the potential threat of Omicron and the significant scaling up of the vaccine programme.
“GPs have been involved all the way through the vaccination programme and want to continue to play their part, but this means we will have to prioritise the services we can provide to our patients.
“This is simply the biggest challenge we face to public health. The evidence clearly indicates the Omicron variant spreads quickly and that the booster vaccine, following the first two primary doses, will significantly improve the protection of people.
“Although we don’t know how severe the variant is, the level of cases we expect to see means many people could become seriously ill and our health care services, particularly hospitals, will come under significant pressure.
“Right across the NHS we need to make sure we can support the drive for booster vaccines and care for those with serious illness.”
The decision is in line with the government’s action plan.
Appointments will be based on clinical needs.
However, GPs said people should contact them if they need to see them, as some appointments will still be available.
Leicester GP Dr Sulaxni Nainani said: “These are not easy decisions, and we know it will cause some concern to patients, but we will prioritise based on clinical need.
“GPs have been available throughout the pandemic and this will not change, if you need to see a GP.
“There are also alternatives to GPs and some patients, if appropriate, will be referred to other health care professionals in the practice team.
“Some practices participate in a scheme to refer patients to community pharmacists so this may be an option in some cases. We assure you, if you need help, you will get it.”
Andy Williams, chief executive for the clinical commissioning groups, said: “I want to thank our GP colleagues and their teams, who are responding to the challenge alongside many others. The response has been fantastic.
“Continued involvement from GPs is vital to the success of the drive to increase boosters. I hope the public understand the scale of the threat posed by Covid, particularly the Omicron variant, and why this action is necessary.
“Last Monday we had the one-year anniversary of the vaccine programme in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR).
“Nearly two million doses have been given. It is a brilliant effort and I want to thank members of the public for their response.
“If you haven’t had the booster yet, please do come forward for your booster, more clinics are becoming available.
“GP mobilisation is part of a series of measures being taken to increase capacity.
“More vaccine slots are being made available at community pharmacists and the military is supporting the delivery of vaccines at various sites across LLR.”