Loughborough Echo

GPs axe some appointmen­ts to give jabs


- News Reporter By COREY BEDFORD

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.”

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