Chemist+Druggist Reveals Frontline NHS Staff Won’t Get Swine Flu Vaccine
TONBRIDGE, England, Aug. 21 /PRNewswire/ — Pharmacists have branded government swine flu vaccination plans “unacceptable,” Chemist+Druggist has revealed. The criticism comes after the profession was excluded from the first wave of healthcare staff to get the jab.
Last week health secretary Andy Burnham announced the list of priority patient groups for vaccination against the H1N1 virus.
However, the Department of Health [DH] list of “frontline health and social workers” that will be offered the vaccine at the same time, which includes radiographers and volunteers, does not mention pharmacists.
The news was confirmed by Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee [PSNC] head of pharmacy practice Barbara Parsons, who confirmed the DH had adopted plans in its vaccination guide the Green Book and priority groups “do not include community pharmacy.”
The decision comes despite government policy proposals to get pharmacists performing more frontline NHS services like cancer screening and vascular risk checks. The government published a white paper in 2008 detailing plans to make pharmacies healthy living centres on the high street.
Pharmacist Graham Phillips, of Manor Pharmacy, Herts, said the news was “very frustrating” for pharmacists, many of whom have immediate contact with swine flu patients.
He said: “It’s unacceptable. It seems bizarre given the frontline role we play.”
Pharmacist Amish Patel said he was concerned by the plans given the role pharmacists are playing in the current pandemic.
He said: “Pharmacies are collection points for antivirals. We’ve had patients coming in to collect their antiviral. . .doctors have minimal contact compared with pharmacists.”
Mr Patel’s comments were echoed by locum Lindsey Gilpin, who has also served patients with swine flu.
She said: “As I was giving Tamiflu to someone who was coughing and breathing on me, I was thinking ‘can I get very much more frontline than this?’”
The list of priority workers for the jab, contained in an annex to a letter by chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, includes doctors, dentists, midwives and nurses, paramedics and ambulance drivers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and radiographers, as well as students and trainees in these disciplines and volunteers who are working with patients.
Despite pharmacy’s exclusion, the DH added that preparations were underway to extend the programme beyond these groups.
The swine flu vaccine is not currently licensed and the programme start date is uncertain, but PSNC said it was “expected to be next month at the earliest.”
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