Patients have been confused

As the nights draw in and temperatures fall it is good to know that our medical team at Belford Medical Practice and their branch surgery in Seahouses have planned well ahead for the coming winter.

Friday, 18th November 2016, 12:00 pm

Many months ago flu clinics were planned, the records of all patients considered ‘at risk’ were reviewed and letters inviting them to receive their flu jab were written, including the dates and times of the proposed flu jab clinics.

Flu vaccines were ordered back in December last year and purchased from more than one supplier, so ensuring certainty of supply.

When the flu jab is administered, the team have knowledge of, and access to, their patients’ records.

They are therefore aware of other health issues, such as allergies, other medications taken, and whether that patient needs other vaccinations, for example the pneumonia jab and possibly the shingles jab too. Indeed, for some patients the flu jab is not appropriate.

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So there is a holistic approach to each patient who attends the surgery clinic for their flu vaccination.

An intensive advertising campaign has been waged this year by some high street pharmacies and in-store supermarket pharmacies, inviting customers to receive a free flu jab in their stores.

This has had an impact on many surgeries across the region, which have reported a dramatic fall in attendance at their flu clinics.

While it may be more convenient for some people to have their flu jab while out shopping, these pharmacies do not have access to, or knowledge of, the patient’s detailed medical background.

Unfortunately, patients have been told by some pharmacies that they are “easing the pressure on doctors’ clinics”. This is not true.

Should a patient find it difficult to attend their flu clinic, an alternative and more convenient appointment can be made at the surgery.

The unintended consequences are that surgeries will incur losses, vaccines will be unused and orders for future years will be reduced, and medical teams will have been under-used, but most importantly, vaccines will have been administered to patients without detailed knowledge of that patient’s health record.

The drive by big businesses to compete with GP practices in delivering flu vaccines is a worrying development and has caused confusion for many patients.

Hopefully, the public will realise that to attend their own surgery for the flu jab is a wiser option.

I share these concerns in common with the PPG’s of some other local practices.

Rosemary Ellis

Chairman

Patients Participation Group

Belford Medical Practice