An agreement to increase the uptake of flu vaccinations in Wales has been made between BMA Cymru Wales and Community Pharmacy Wales.
The memorandum of understanding has the aim of hitting the 75 per cent uptake target of eligible patients, laid down by Welsh Government, during 2017/18.
BMA Welsh GPs committee chair Charlotte Jones said: 'This agreement is another important step in the right direction towards collaborative working.
'It’s about pharmacists encouraging patients to attend their GP practices routinely for flu vaccination services, with pharmacists focusing on the hard-to-reach groups and those who clearly state they will not attend their GP surgeries for vaccination.
'It ensures the lines of communication between GPs and community pharmacists in Wales remain firmly open, with patients' health as a shared priority.
'It also embraces the principles of prudent healthcare by promoting NHS flu vaccination services, with patients taking a more proactive approach to self-care.
'It acknowledges the need to respect patient choice about how and when and they access such services, if they choose to.'
As part of the agreement, GPs will include pharmacy flu vaccination provision in planning discussions at primary care cluster meetings.
They will also inform pharmacies when in-house vaccine supplies have been exhausted and tell patients they can get their jabs if they cannot make an appointment.
In turn, pharmacists will tell local GP surgeries they are planning to provide vaccinations as soon as possible and will encourage patients who already have appointments made at GP practices to keep them.
Community Pharmacy Wales chair Mark Griffiths said: 'Year on year, pharmacies have played a greater role in providing flu vaccinations and we are delighted to have come to this agreement with the BMA.
'This voluntary compact between pharmacist and doctor puts the patient at its very heart, allowing more people to get vaccinated. It also demonstrates that health professionals can work together in Wales in a way that meets the Welsh Government objectives for maximising access while at the same time taking the pressure off GPs.
'By coordinating better in the primary care sector, we can also take the pressure off hospitals and reduced costs. There were 779 admissions for flu to Welsh hospitals last year, of which 125 people ended up in high dependency units.
'I’m confident that with proper coordination and increased vaccine uptake we can also alleviate the pressure on our hospitals too, which is again in line with the objectives of the Welsh Government and the broader health community.'
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