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Two national bodies have urged pharmacists and general practitioners to work together to maximise the number of people who receive a flu jab this winter.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) are asked healthcare professionals to come together to help achieve the government ambition of delivering the “biggest flu vaccination programme in history”.

The professional bodies have said that a collaborative approach to flu vaccination is crucial across primary care, putting patients first and ensuring possible competition between healthcare providers does not impact negatively on GP or pharmacy practice or lead to unnecessary tensions between the professions.

This follows an announcement last week by Simon Dukes, the chief executive of the pharmacy negotiator PSNC, of a “joint incentive scheme” to help collaborative work between GP and community pharmacies.

The RPS president, Sandra Gidley, said: “With winter pressures and COVID-19, this year it’s more important than ever that pharmacists and GPs work together so everyone who needs a flu vaccination can get one. This needs to be supported by adequate resources, the right information systems, and ensuring staff can work safely.”

With Covid-19 cases rising, ensuring a high uptake of flu vaccination will be critical to keeping people well and reducing pressure on the health service.

The RCGP joint honorary secretary, Dr Jonathan Leach, commented: “Seasonal flu can be a serious illness, which poses a real risk to people’s health. As we continue to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, its vital that we protect as many people as possible from the flu, particularly those in at risk groups, such as older people, pregnant women and patients with long-term conditions and learning difficulties, and reduce the pressures on the health system.

“General practice and community pharmacy sit at the heart of communities. By working together across primary care, we can ensure that vulnerable individuals are able to access the protection which the flu vaccine affords.”

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