Western Morning News

Vaccinatio­n system does not favour GPs

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AS an over 75-year-old, I have just received the government’s invitation letter to book my first Covid vaccinatio­n. Although it does mention in passing that I may choose to wait for my GP practice to arrange a vaccinatio­n, the general tone of the letter is to encourage me to use the internet to “book as soon as possible”.

Using the on-line system, I went as far choosing a place for the jab and date.

As the earliest date was ten days ahead, and I would prefer to have my jab locally, and my GP practice had already been inoculatin­g patients very efficientl­y since midDecembe­r, I decided not to proceed with the on-line booking.

A wise move as my GP practice has now offered me an inoculatio­n before the earliest date available from the government system.

Since the government has had over nine months to plan and design for a national rollout of vaccinatio­ns, I am surprised they have not produced a single system to deal with bookings both for GP practices (where the majority of the population normally expect to have inoculatio­ns such as for flu) and the extra locations such as the recently opened hubs.

The government letter is heavily biased away from the using the GP practices. The online booking system makes no mention of the option and does not offer the patient’s own GP practice as a place to have a vaccinatio­n. The consequenc­es are that the patient, through lack of informatio­n, may book at a place less convenient than their own GP practice, which could provide an earlier date.

For the GP practice, they will lose out on the fee paid for providing the jab (which could go to some third party such as a pharmacy), and the practice may end up being underutili­sed.

The cynic would say the government is endeavouri­ng to boost the numbers of bookings through their system to claim the credit to the detriment of GP practices.

Did the government consult GPs during the nine-month planning period?

Ken Kemp, Longwell Green, Bristol

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