Community nurses will have to vaccinate children aged between six months and five years against swine flu, after a deal could not be reached with GP leaders.
Announcing the latest extension to the swine flu immunisation programme today, the Department of Health said it had “not proved possible” to reach a national agreement with the British Medical Association for GP practices to give the vaccine to under fives.
The DH said it hoped many GPs would still decide to offer the vaccine to under fives but, where this was not the case, PCTs should use alternatives such as their district nursing and health visiting teams. This is in spite of anger in some quarters that nurses are already having to vaccinate housebound patients while GPs pick up payments for it.
Health secretary Andy Burnham said: “It is disappointing that we have not been able to come to a national agreement with GPs. But we are now getting on with the job and asking local health trusts to put local plans in place so that vaccination of these children can begin seamlessly.”
GPC chair Lawrence Buckman said: “We sincerely wanted to be able to reach a national agreement with the UK governments about a process for vaccinating the under fives against swine flu.
“Unfortunately this has not been possible, because the government would not support adequate measures to help free up staff time,” said Dr Buckman.