Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Flu vaccination for children – since when was quality negotiable?

As concern over a possible swine flu epidemic in the UK grows, apparently doctors and the Department of Health (DOH) are suggesting that flu vaccinations for children can be obtained privately from pharmacies.

Children and young adults appear to be most at risk from this strain of flu and vaccinations are provided free to the vulnerable among these groups, such as asthma sufferers and pregnant women. But if a parent wishes to arrange vaccination for healthy children, the DOH suggests that patients should receive the vaccination privately from, for example their local pharmacist, despite guidelines to the contrary from a public sector quality regulator.

A government spokeswoman has stated ‘There are no restrictions on who pharmacies give vaccinations to in a private capacity. If they decide they don’t want to do it, we cannot force them to do it’ She continued, ‘…There is nothing to stop pharmacies from giving it to healthy children under the age of 16’

The Telegraph also reports that Dr Prit Buttar, who is on the general practice committee of the British Medical Association said that rules that pharmacists must have undergone child protection and resuscitation training, imposed by the regulator, The Care Quality Commission (CQC) were ‘overly cautious’

So now it would appear that the Department of Health and some GPs are suggesting that it’s fine to ignore quality and safety guidelines for political expediency. How interesting that in the white paper ‘Liberating the NHS’, Andrew Lansley, the UK secretary of State for Health states:
We will strengthen the role of the Care quality Commission as an effective quality inspectorate across health and social care’

Quite rightly, in my opinion, the major pharmacy chains and many independent pharmacists are sticking to their guns, following the CQC guidelines and refusing to allow vaccination of children under 16 by pharmacists.

I wholeheartedly and passionately support them. I am a qualified pharmacist and practiced in hospital and retail for several years. Like medicine and any other health related profession, the training is rigorous and detailed. Throughout this part of my education and subsequent career, every bit of training and experience constantly reinforced that patient safety is paramount. Doses and formulae are checked and re-checked, patient understanding confirmed and a robust clinical audit trail applied at all times.

How can you be 'overly cautious' with the safety of children?


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