Already pressurised community nurses are having to vaccinate housebound patients against swine flu without any extra resources.
GPs are being paid up to £2.5m for swine flu vaccinations being carried out by community nurses for housebound people in “high risk” groups.
GP practices are being paid £5.25 for each patient on their list who is vaccinated, regardless of whether it is carried out by the practice. GPs’ records are used to identify those who are eligible.
A source said an average PCT had around 3,000 housebound people who would be vaccinated. That would mean around 450,000 patients nationally and £2.4m paid to GP practices.
NHS Newham director of emergency planning and resilience Wendy Thomas, a nurse manager, said it was right community nurses did the work because they were trusted and respected by those who needed vaccinating.
However, she said: “The [Department of Health] guidance is clear that community nurses are expected to vaccinate housebound patients but no additional funding has been made available to PCTs, while GPs get funded for those patients.
“That has been unfair and angered many nurses.” The work would take at least a month and significant staff time, she said.
Alison Browne, head of nursing and Barking and Dagenham Community Health Services, part of North East London Foundation Trust, said it had agreed to offer the swine flu vaccine to patients where it was visiting them as “part of their routine care” for no extra cost.
However, NHS Barking and Dagenham has also contracted the provider to vaccinate others such as people in nursing homes, which it has agreed extra payment for.
A DH spokeswoman said: “The work of community nurses is vital in protecting housebound patients from infection with swine flu.
“However, most NHS community nurses are employed on a monthly salary and will provide vaccination to housebound patients as part of their day to day tasks.
“If nurses’ hours increase for any reason it is for the local PCT to decide how they might be compensated.”