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DH ‘did not think MMR scheme through’


1 May 2013

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Exclusive The government ‘hasn’t thought through’ how the national measles vaccination programme will work in practice, GP leaders have claimed.

Exclusive The government ‘hasn’t thought through’ how the national measles vaccination programme will work in practice, GP leaders have claimed.

The scheme, announced last week by new body Public Health England, aims to give the MMR vaccine to all young people aged 10-16 before September. 
Yet although they agree with the plans, both Family Doctor Association (FDA) chairman Dr Peter Swinyard and Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance said doctors should have been forewarned.
Dr Swinyard told The Commissioning Review: “It’s another one of those situations where GPs will do it, because they have to, but the government really haven’t thought it through.
“We will manage somehow, but it seems like this is yet another example of people just having to follow the rules, the way the NHS has always been run.”
Dr Dixon believes the crux of the issue is that the government failed to tell practices of their plans before announcing them nationally.
He said: “We’ve had these general pronouncements from on high that most GPs have found out second-hand. There needs to be a concerted effort in the practice, and unless you know you’re going to be resourced it will be difficult.
“We really do need to get back to a system where if there’s a national announcement about general practice people are pre-warned exactly what it’s going to be about, both in terms of medical procedures and also in terms of it being properly resourced,” he added.
Reimbursement ‘reassurance’
The Commissioning Review can reveal that talks are in place to fully reimburse practices for the vaccines and resources used.
The British Medical Association (BMA) is still in talks with the Department of Health and NHS England over how this will be organised, but Dr Dixon has been ‘reassured’.
He said: “I‘ve been reassured that there will be funding coming and it will be quite enough to cover all the costs, but it is a problem that people haven’t had it confirmed yet.”
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) GP Committee confirmed that talks are taking place.
“It’s being discussed at the moment, what funding needs to be in place, but the key thing at the moment is getting the message across.”
He said: “It’s important that practices are supported to be able to respond to what’s already an increasing demand for children’s vaccinations in surgeries, and parents being unsure on what they have to do for their children.”
The GP leaders comments follow from the announcement that around millions of children and older people will be offered vaccines from flu, shingles and diarrhoea. 
The Department of Health has yet to comment.
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