Statement from the GP Partners – Covid 19 Vaccination Booster Programme

Following discussions with our healthcare partners in the local area and careful consideration of the facts placed before them, the GP Partners at Swadlincote Surgery have taken the difficult decision not to take further part in the Covid Vaccination Booster Programme.

The Covid Booster Programme is an optional piece of work for GP practices to opt into which attracts additional funding outside of the core elements of general practice which we hold a contract with NHS to provide.

Over recent months, we have seen an unprecedented demand on our core services and we recognise that, despite our best efforts and recruiting additional clinical and non-clinical staff, patients repeatedly tell us they are often left frustrated at the waiting times to see our team or have difficulty getting through on the telephones.

We believe diverting our staff to take part in an optional piece of work would only seek to place greater pressure on those staff who remain available for core work each day resulting in a reduced level of care for our patients. None of our staff can be in two places at once doing Covid Vaccines and whatever else they would be doing normally for our patients at the same time.

The Covid Vaccination programme presents a number of logistical difficulties when compared to other vaccinations e.g. Flu, namely:

  • The vaccine can’t be stored permanently at our surgery – we have to order it in from elsewhere and once unfrozen has a limited shelf life.
  • The administrative process of recording the covid vaccine is more laborious as it is done on a separate computer system to our own.
  • The need for a 15 minute wait after the vaccine severely restricts the rate at which we can vaccinate people on the premises as they cannot leave straight away.
  • The only viable way to deliver the vaccines without disrupting day to day work would be to offer this at weekends when the surgery was closed for normal business. As GP Partners we are proud of the way our staff have gone above and beyond for our patients in the last 18 months and we cannot and should not have an expectation that they will give up time with their families to fulfil an optional contract that could be continuing for many months or years into the future.

As such, patients who receive a text message or letter from the NHS centrally inviting them to book a Covid booster vaccine will be advised to ring 119 and source a covid booster themselves at a local provider of their choice.

Remember a minimum of 180 days have to pass since your second vaccine to be eligible for a booster vaccine.

There are other providers in South Derbyshire (e.g. Newhall Pharmacy) so travel to an alternative site should not be onerous and arrangements will be put in place by the Community NHS teams to vaccinate the truly housebound.

Thank You.