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Practices facing venue hire problems for Covid booster programme

Covid vaccines


General practices are having difficulties securing venues from which to deliver the Covid-19 booster vaccination programme, in particular due to sites no longer being available, the BMA has said.

In its latest update to members, it said issues with ‘sourcing securing and/or funding’ sites for booster jabs was affecting ‘a number of’ GP groups.

This is happening ‘particularly when previous venues are no longer available’, the BMA added.

LMCs have told Nursing in Practice sister publication Pulse that NHS buildings previously used for Covid jabs are no longer free because clinics need to be restored as part of tackling the backlog of care caused by the pandemic.

They added that other non-NHS buildings – such as leisure centres or those owned by local councils – are now returning to their former use as services open up to the public.

The BMA said PCN groupings should tell their CCG if they are having problems finding a venue for the booster programme.

The BMA bulletin, sent to GPs last week on 5 August, said: ‘We are aware of a number of GP groups having problems sourcing, securing and/or funding venues for the booster programme, particularly when previous venues are no longer available.

‘If practices/PCN groupings are having difficulties finding venues, they should raise this with their local commissioner in the first instance. It is expected that PCN groupings will, where possible, use existing premises within their collaborating GP practices’ control. If any other NHS estate is used the costs should be covered by the commissioner (NHSE) via the CCG.’

Tower Hamlets LMC chair Dr Jackie Applebee said PCNs in the north of the east London borough are ‘really struggling’ as the council building that was used for vaccinations in earlier parts of the programme is no longer available.

GPs are being encouraged to use NHS estates by the CCG for the booster vaccination programme but in the north of the borough ‘we have really old buildings which we struggle to provide primary care from, let alone having to do the Covid booster programme’, she said.

Dr Applebee told Pulse: ‘We had a fantastic council building – the Arts Pavilion – which is accessible, on the ground floor, has massive space for 11 cubicles. The council are taking it back because they want to start hiring it out again for events.’

Walsall LMC’s medical secretary Dr Uzma Ahmad said buildings that PCNs were temporarily using for vaccinations were taken back by NHS community services wanting to restore clinics when some PCNs in the region opted out of the second phase of the programme.

She said: ‘Previously [those buildings] were available [to PCNs] due to Covid, but because of the backlog [of care] all community services are back running so the space is occupied.’

Local leisure centres previously used for giving Covid vaccinations have now resumed services as well so are not free, she said.

‘We are working with the CCG and others to see how we can make [venues] available to suit patients’ needs,’ she added.

Dr Amir Hannan, chair of the Association of Greater Manchester LMCs, said a PCN in the local region had to find an alternative venue earlier this summer ahead of Covid restrictions being lifted on 19 July.

He said: ‘At Hyde [PCN] we had a drive-in that was at the car park of the local swimming baths. Now that the baths are open they obviously can’t do it there. But they have moved to another site – it’s not quite as accessible, because they were right in the middle of the community.’

Earlier this week, a government adviser said a Covid booster jab may only be needed for people whose immune responses to the first two doses are likely to be inadequate.

A version of this article was originally published in Nursing in Practice sister publication Pulse.

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