Concern over Covid booster delivery as GPs face backlog

The RCGP said that general practice is already 'working beyond full capacity'.

Concern over Covid booster delivery as GPs face backlog iStock

Concerns have been raised over the delivery of Covid booster jags, with GPs facing a backlog of appointments.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in Scotland, has warned that general practice is already working “beyond full capacity”.

The membership body, which represents GPs across Scotland, said there is a need to balance those requiring flu and Covid-19 boosters, against patients with acute problems and chronic illnesses which they may have put off due to the pandemic.

RCGP Scotland joint chair Dr David Shackles said that GPs have been working hard to protect as many people as possible from the virus.

He continued: “In previous years GPs have also delivered very effective flu programmes for the elderly and at-risk populations using both opportunistic and vaccine clinic appointments.

“GPs would be most likely to be involved with immunising the elderly and most vulnerable patients, traditionally those who would have been eligible for the influenza vaccine.

“The need for increased remote consulting due to Covid-19 has reduced the opportunity for opportunistic vaccination, however, GPs have been seeing big increases in numbers of face-to-face consultations over the summer.

“We understand the risk is balancing the need to vaccinate those requiring flu and Covid-19 boosters against requirement to see patients with acute problems and chronic illnesses that they may have put off dealing with during the height of the pandemic.”

Dr Shackles said that there has been “unprecedented demand” for appointments due to a backlog.

“As with the arrangements for the initial round of Covid-19 vaccinations, any decisions regarding GP involvement in the booster programme will be made locally between practices and local health boards,” he said.

“General practice is already working beyond full capacity and GPs have had unprecedented demand for appointments due to backlog.

“However, GPs will be working hard to ensure that a system is in place to ensure all patients can access vaccination and other appropriate GP treatments without destabilising services or adversely affecting the wellbeing of healthcare staff.”

He said that the RCGP has been calling for “urgent action” to boost the GP workforce in order to keep delivery the highest standard of care.

“For some time now we have expressed serious concerns about the impact of working through the pandemic on our already stretched workforce,” said Dr Shackles.

“That’s why we have been calling for urgent action to boost our GP workforce to ensure that general practice can continue to deliver the highest standard of care for our patients now and in the future.

“As we look ahead to the recovery period of the NHS, we are engaging with the Scottish Government on a whole-system approach to ensure that no single part of the NHS experiences further increases in workload.”