GPs don’t have time to administer Covid booster jabs, warns union


GPs have said they do not have time to administer booster vaccines on top of routine health checks.

Dr Farah Jameel, recently elected chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said that doctors needed to be relieved from other daily obligations, if they were expected to speed up the rollout of booster jabs.

At the height of the rollout last spring, the programme was administering around 3.5m jabs a week.

But since then the rollout has been scaled back, with about 50 mass vaccination centres closing, and many GPs dropping out of the programme.

Currently, the programme is administering just 2.4 million vaccines a week, with ministers signalling they want to see a return to previous rates.

‘Unhelpful emphasis on undeliverable targets’ 

But Dr Jameel said many GPs had opted out of the rollout of boosters because they had too many other instructions to meet.

She told Radio 4’s Today programme there was an “unhelpful emphasis and obsession on management of undeliverable targets” and said it was “absurd” that they had not been lifted, in view of the crisis.

In the first waves of the pandemic, GPs were released from many of their contractual obligations, which were brought back in April, as part of efforts to restore routine care.

Dr Jameel, who was elected earlier this month, as the union polled its members on industrial action said the withdrawal of GPs from providing the vaccination programme was “directly correlated” to the return of such targets.

The targets mean that patients are offered services such as breast screening and other health checks.

Calling for the contractual obligations to be lifted, Dr Jameel said: “There just isn’t enough workforce, we just can’t do everything and we’ve had to prioritise where we focus, of course, because we are bound at the end of the day by our contracts.”

‘All hands on deck’ needed for rollout 

The new chairman of the BMA’s GP committee said the NHS needed “all hands on deck” to roll out vaccinations.

On Tuesday afternoon the Prime Minister is expected to set out plans for the accelerated rollout of booster doses, with an expansion in the number of places offering vaccinations, and longer opening hours.

It comes after changes in the eligibility criteria, in order to shore up defences against the omicron variant, with boosters offered to all over 18s.


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