30 November 2021

Booster Expansion ‘Sensible’ – Now GPs and Teams Need Support to Manage Escalating Workload to Deliver it

Responding to the announced changes to the Covid-19 booster vaccination programme, Dr Gary Howsam, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“People will be understandably concerned about the Omicron variant, particularly given we know relatively little about it at this point. The emergence of the variant does show the pandemic is far from over and being cautious is a sensible approach, at least until we know more.

“The Covid-19 vaccine remains our most important protection for people from the virus, and booster jabs will increase people's immunity, so expanding eligibility for people to have booster vaccines and reducing the gap in between the second doses and booster jabs are sensible steps forward. We would strongly urge everyone to get their booster jab, when they are invited to come forward.

“Hundreds of thousands of booster vaccines are being delivered every day, many in general practice and wider primary care, and more than 17.5m eligible people have already received their extra dose. Today’s announcements will involve a significant expansion of the Covid vaccination programme, both in terms of volume and complexity, so it's crucial that GPs and their teams that are involved receive clear and urgent communication as to how these developments will impact this vital work.

"GPs and our teams have played a leading role in the Covid vaccination programme since its inception, and more than 1,000 GP-led sites across the country are still vaccinating on top of other vital work, including delivering care to more than a million patients a day and the flu vaccination programme. General practice is highly experienced in delivering effective vaccination campaigns on a mass-scale, but further involvement in the booster campaign will require sufficient resourcing, particularly in terms of staff, and support to manage escalating workload – including the suspension of bureaucratic demands, such as QOF - as we approach what is looking like an incredibly tough winter."

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The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.