NHS England has this afternoon announced that while the flu vaccination service will officially commence in October, pharmacy owners will be able to go ahead and vaccinate any patients who have already booked September appointments and be paid for those.
The decision to allow booked appointments to go ahead follows high-level influencing work led by Community Pharmacy England and it will have huge operational benefits for pharmacy businesses who have already planned to deliver large numbers of vaccinations in September.
Commenting on the announcement, Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services, Community Pharmacy England said:
“While this is not quite the outcome we wanted – we would have preferred a full launch of the service in September, as has always previously been the case – we are delighted and relieved that Ministers and the NHS have responded to our calls for common sense to prevail and agreed that pharmacies who have planned vaccinations in September will be able to go ahead with those.
“Pharmacy owners will be relieved by this news and they and their patients should benefit from the avoided disruption which for many businesses could have been significant.”
NHS England’s announcement
NHS England’s letter to systems, community pharmacies and general practices says flu vaccinations (and COVID-19 vaccinations) can commence:
for care home residents and care home staff from 2nd October 2023; and
for all other eligible patient cohorts from 7th October 2023.
However, the letter also states:
‘Payment for vaccinations will ordinarily only be made following the service commencement date. However, we understand that some firm commitments and appointments have already been made, so where this is the case and the patient wishes to receive flu vaccination in September, NHS England will permit payment claims to be submitted.’
We suggest that pharmacy owners:
review their current appointment bookings for the service, noting which patients booked appointments prior to today’s announcement; and
update their booking systems in light of today’s announcement.