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GPs backing booster drive

21st December 2021 | By Communications Team | Posted in

GP practices in Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland (LLR) are throwing their weight behind the drive on booster vaccines over the next two weeks and are urging people to come forward and have their booster.

Offering all over 18-year-olds a booster vaccine by the end of year is a priority in the NHS, alongside maintaining urgent and emergency care and cancer care. In LLR alone, this will mean offering around 125,000 vaccines a week compared with the normal level of 50,000: nearly two and half times more.

In response, GPs are being asked to clinically prioritise services, ensuring those with the highest needs are supported, for example urgent and emergency care and cancer care, to focus on the vaccination drive.

Dr Nil Sanganee a GP in Ashby, north west Leicestershire explained: “There is a lot we need to consider in response to the potential threat of Omicron and the significant scaling up of the vaccine programme. GPs have been involved all the way through the vaccination programme and want to continue to play their part, but this means we will have to prioritise the services we can provide to our patients.

“This is simply the biggest challenge we face to public health. The evidence clearly indicates that the Omicron variant spreads quickly and that the booster vaccine, following the first two primary doses, will significantly improve the protection of people. Although we don’t know how severe the variant is, the level of cases we expect to see means that many people could become seriously ill and our health care services, particularly hospitals, will come under significant pressure. Right across the NHS we need to make sure we can support the drive for booster vaccines and care for those with serious illness.”

In line with the Government’s action plan, GPs will be prioritising the vaccine programme and the urgent ‘on the day’ needs for patients. In practice, this will mean not seeing patients for some conditions over the next three weeks. Decisions on which patients will be seen will be based on clinical needs. It will mean that some patients who currently have appointments for routine care may have these postponed by their practice. Some patients with long-term conditions may not have check-ups during this period if it is clinically safe not to.

Leicester GP Dr Sulaxni Nainani said: “These are not easy decisions, and we know it will cause some concern to patients, but we will prioritise based on clinical need. GPs have been available throughout the pandemic and this will not change, if you need to see a GP.

There are also alternatives to GPs and some patients, if appropriate, will be referred to other health care professionals in the practice team. Some practices participate in a scheme to refer patients to community pharmacists so this may be an option in some cases. We assure you, that if you need help, you will get it.”

Andy Williams, Chief Executive for the LLR Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “I want to thank our GP colleagues and their teams, who are responding to the challenge alongside many others. The response has been fantastic.

“Continued involvement from GPs is vital to the success of the drive to increase boosters. I hope the public understand the scale of the threat posed by Covid, particularly the Omicron variant, and why this action is necessary.

“Last Monday we had the one-year anniversary of the vaccine programme in LLR. Nearly two million doses have been given. It is a brilliant effort and I want to thank members of the public for their response. If you haven’t had the booster yet, please do come forward for your booster, more clinics are becoming available.

“GP mobilisation is part of a series of measures being taken to increase capacity. More vaccine slots are being made available at community pharmacists and the military is supporting the delivery of vaccines at various sites across LLR.”

For details of local walk-in vaccine clinics please go to:
https://www.leicestercityccg.nhs.uk/my-health/coronavirus-advice/coronavirus-vaccine/

To book your vaccine in advance please go to: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronaviruscovid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/ or call 119.

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