Let’s get NHS Vaccines in Community Pharmacies!

Caroline Rooks

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

From Tuesday 13th – Thursday 15th November, Community Pharmacy Scotland had a stand in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament. We seized the opportunity to speak to MSPs about bringing NHS vaccinations as a service into community pharmacies.

Currently we can only provide vaccinations as a private service in our pharmacies, due to the 1978 NHS (Scotland) Act which refers to ‘medical practitioners’ and those under their supervision as the only groups that the NHS can contract with for vaccination provision.

While this restriction may have been relevant in 1978, it is no longer fit for purpose and it prevents community pharmacies from providing a service which GPs have largely agree should be taken off their hands – the GMS contract agreed that vaccination provision should be moved away from GP practices to NHS Boards for delivery through dedicated teams.

We wanted to highlight the issue of the 1978 NHS Act to MSPs so that action could be taken to change this law. We have also spoken with the Scottish Government and the Civil Service, who are looking into the feasibility of how to make these changes.

Our message went down really well with MSPs – with many referring to it as a no brainer that the law should be changed. Generally speaking all 44 of the MSPs who signed our board, plus the few others who didn’t, agreed that community pharmacies are best placed to ensure that those who need flu jabs can easily and conveniently get them, which will help Scotland achieve its ‘herd immunity’ targets set by the WHO. We were careful to point out that we think community pharmacies should be part of the solution, however we are not arguing that they should be the whole solution.

A particular highlight of our event was speaking with Jeane Freeman MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, where we had the opportunity to discuss this issue in depth. We were assured by Ms Freeman that she also agreed that community pharmacies should be part of the solution in providing NHS vaccinations and that the Scottish Government’s legal service is looking into the various ways in which the law could be changed.

We took a plastic arm with us so that MSPs could see for themselves how easy it is to give a flu jab – we thought this would be a fun way to grab their attention as well as being an unusual photo opportunity!

 

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