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19 August 2011 | Angeline Albert
The British Medical Association
rejected the UK government’s proposals to centralise the procurement of flu
jabs, saying it has overestimated the savings potential.
The BMA, a trade union representing 145,000 doctors and medical
students, is opposed to any move to centralise the purchase of vaccinations,
and made this clear in its response to the Departmentof Health’s consultation on the issue – A review of
the procurement of the seasonal flu vaccine.
does not believe the proposals would improve vaccination uptake in England or
prevent jab shortages.
The consultation assumes
that discounts of between 30 per cent and 40 per cent are available to GPs.
However in its response, the BMA said: “The government has overestimated
potential savings and we are not convinced that bulk procurement of vaccine
would achieve further savings of as high as £20-25 million as has been
suggested. Although having providers competing for these bulk purchases would
drive costs down initially, the fact that many GPs might find that there was
little economic argument to continue vaccinating may result in the costs of
vaccinating rising, as few other vaccinators could do it at the marginal costs
delivered by NHS GPs.”
BMA explained that with “no uplift to GP net pay in 2011-12”, it was extremely
concerned about “yet another potential loss of GPs’ income streams” and “fails
to see how central procurement would increase immunisation rates”. It said:
“This proposal could actually reduce the incentives for practices that
currently have a huge incentive to use their immunisations on the margins of
their order unless they have sale or return.”
The BMA said moving to
centralised procurement of seasonal flu vaccine “would risk making matters worse”. It also said consideration
needs to be given to how flu vaccines will be delivered to practices when PCTs
no longer exist.
organisation said the current system in England works well but what was needed
is to build on the existing system by giving legal permission for practices and
PCTs to share stocks and for PCT clusters and their successors to hold
emergency stocks that could be called on in exceptional situations.