The BMA says that asking GPs to rebook appointments of tens of thousands of elderly and vulnerable patients, due to get their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccination in a few days’ time, is unreasonable and totally unfair, and practices who honour existing appointments booked for the next few days should be supported.
Following yesterday’s announcement by the Government that the follow-up dose of the Pfizer vaccine should now be delayed to 12 weeks, scores of GPs and clinical leaders have told the Association that to do this will have a terrible impact on the emotional well-being of their most vulnerable, at-risk patients.
The BMA believes these are patients that have already been promised, by the NHS and local clinicians, that they will receive a second dose of Pfizer vaccination next week; they have given their consent to receive it and, quite rightly, are expecting to have it.
Chair of the BMA GP committee, Dr Richard Vautrey said: “This group of very elderly patients is at the highest risk of death if they contract Covid-19, which is why GPs are so concerned for them. It is grossly and patently unfair to tens of thousands of our most at-risk patients to now try to reschedule their appointments. Local leaders are telling us that is unprofessional and impractical to amend the appointments for thousands of frail elderly patients, particularly those booked and who have already made arrangements to have their second vaccination in the next two weeks.
“The decision to ask GPs, at such short notice, to rebook patients for three months hence, will also cause huge logistical problems for almost all vaccination sites and practices. For example, to make contact with even just two thousand elderly or vulnerable patients will take a team of five staff at a practice about a week, and that’s simply untenable.
“The BMA believes the existing commitment made to these patients by the NHS and local clinicians should be respected. If GPs decide to honour these booked appointments in January the BMA will support them.
“The Government must see that it’s only right that existing bookings for the oldest and most vulnerable members of our society are honoured, and it must also as soon as possible publish a scientifically-validated justification for its new approach. As doctors, we believe this can and should be done even as practices and the wider NHS step up the Covid-19 vaccination programme to deliver initial doses of vaccination to other vulnerable people, including frontline healthcare professionals – many of whom still have not even received their first vaccination.”