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Accelerated Covid programme timings and payment explained

New Covid variant has emerged

August 31st 2023

Tagged: DM Zone news Clinical Zone news England COVID19

By Ailsa Colquhoun

NHS England has brought forward the start of the Covid and flu vaccination season to Monday 11 September, and is prioritising care home residents, due to concerns over the new Covid variant BA.2.86.

To facilitate roll out of vaccination clinics, the sign up/expression of interest process will be extended until 17:00hrs on 4 September 2023 although further providers can be commissioned by exception after this date

To support the  additional administrative, organisation and delivery costs associated with the accelerated programme, commissioned providers will now be eligible to claim the following payments:
• An additional acceleration payment of £10 (in addition to the IoS fee of £7.54) for each Covid-19 vaccination administered to care home residents between Monday 11 September and Sunday 22 October 2023 inclusive
• A separate one-off additional payment of £200 for each completed care home by 23.59hrs on Sunday 22 October 2023 and confirmed by no later than 23.59hrs on Sunday 29 October 2023.
To support the acceleration of Covid-19 vaccinations to other eligible cohorts:
• An additional £5 acceleration payment (in addition to the IoS fee) for each Covid-19 vaccination administered to eligible people between 11 September and 31 October 2023 (excluding care home residents, housebound people, and any health and care worker vaccinations commissioned under the NHS Standard Contract).

Eligible NHS vaccination cohorts remain unchanged but the aim now is to have as many people as possible vaccinated by the end of October.

According to the latest risk assessment by the UKHSA, BA.2.86 has a high number of mutations and has appeared in several countries in individuals without travel history. However, it is not currently classified as a variant of concern.

NHS England is also asking providers to deliver the annual flu vaccine to eligible groups at the same time:

From 11 September 2023, care home residents and those who are housebound. We are asking systems to ensure that all residents are vaccinated before 22 October 2023.
• From 11 September 2023, other high risk groups
• From 18 September 2023, eligible people can book a Covid-19 vaccination online (using, via the NHS App or by calling 119. National Covid-19 vaccination invitations will also start from 18 September.

Commenting on the news, DDA Chairman Dr Richard West has reiterated dispensing practices’ commitment to the NHS vaccination programme and practices’ support for clarity and the funding to support delivery of the accelerated programme.

However, he strongly urges NHS England officials to avoid a repetition of this year’s planning, which has seen the start of the vaccination campaign change at very short notice to practices.  The DDA echoes the thoughts of pharmacists, who have described the start to the winter vaccination programme as “shambolic”.

He said: “NHS England needs a far greater understanding of the way that practices work. Given that we to start planning next year’s campaign soon, there is no time to waste.”