College responds to new booster programme target deadline
Publication date: 13 December 2021
Following the announcement by Boris Johnson yesterday evening that the target is to give all eligible adults a booster jab by the end of the year, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the following:
“It has been made very clear that the Covid-19 booster programme is top priority for general practice and the wider NHS - and that getting the booster vaccination is the most effective thing patients can do to protect themselves from the virus, particularly in light of the Omicron variant.
“Hundreds of thousands of booster vaccines are already being delivered every day in England. We understand the need to expand this capacity significantly in order to ensure as many people receive their booster jab – or initial vaccination, if they haven’t already done so – by the end of the year. But this will have an impact on the other care and services we are able to provide in general practice.
“People will not stop being sick or needing GP care for other illnesses and conditions. This has been a balancing act general practice has been treading throughout the pandemic - and GPs and our teams will continue to strive to ensure patients who need our care are able to get it in a safe and appropriate way. In particular, if people are seriously ill or have signs of something that could be serious illness, such as cancer, they should seek medical attention, either via 111, their GP practice or in an emergency, by calling 999.
“General practice is under immense pressure – pressure that preceded the pandemic, but has intensified due to the crisis, which started almost two years ago. Practices understand the need to prioritise the booster programme and it is important that we are provided with guidance by NHS England to help us to de-prioritise non-essential work. Amidst the chronic shortage of family doctors and other team members in general practice, the profession will also need to be supplemented by additional staff, perhaps redeployed from elsewhere in the NHS, retirees and medical students, and volunteers.”
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Notes to editor
The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.