Swine flu vaccine
GPs offered cash bonuses to hit
swine flu uptake targets
10 Nov 09
By Lilian Anekwe
Exclusive: GPs at the centre of one of the summer’s swine flu hotspots have been
offered bonuses worth thousands of pounds extra for hitting vaccination targets,
Pulse can reveal.
NHS managers in Birmingham are so worried about the prospect of a winter
outbreak that they have offered practices up to 50% over and above the payments
agreed between the GPC and NHS Employers if they vaccinate a high proportion of
The revelation came as Pulse learned the
Department of Health has given PCTs the power to impose financial penalties
on practices if they are forced to suspend routine work, raising fears GPs will
be treated starkly differently by NHS managers during the outbreak depending on
where they work.
NHS Heart of Birmingham revealed a sliding scale of bonuses, on top of the £5.25
practices will get per vaccination of patients in target groups and the
relaxation of QOF patient survey thresholds if they hit the DH’s uptake target
of 50.7% in at-risk patients under 65 years.
A spokesperson for the PCT said: ‘In recognition of the additional workload, the
PCT will pay a high-coverage bonus.’ GPs will get a bonus of 10% even if they
are 20% down on the Government target, and if they achieve more than 90%
coverage the bonus will rise to 50%.
Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMC and a GP in the city,
said the extra payments were ‘welcome’. ‘We are asking every practice to give us
information about the burden of work so that we can arrange payment if
Pulse, however, has uncovered documents issued to PCTs by the DH, giving trusts
the power to impose financial penalties for the ‘cessation or reduction of
PCTs are also being encouraged to visit practices unannounced to check that the
workload pressures or staff absences given as reasons for suspension of services
are genuine and ‘to validate them at any time during or after a period of
The new guidance documents – distributed to PCTs by NHS Primary Care
Contracting, a policy-implementation body acting on behalf of the DH – fly in
the face of Government guidance issued to PCTs in August.
That document, Pandemic Flu: Planning and Responding to Primary Care Capacity
Challenges, encouraged trusts to pay practices that were forced to provide cover
for neighbouring practices under buddying-up arrangements up to £1,250 per 1,000
patients and advised that ‘the PCT should not take any action to recover monies
paid during the period the practice is closed’.
A DH spokesperson said: ‘It is only right PCTs and GPs are well prepared for all
Swine flu cases in England rose by 8%, from 78,000 to 84,000, last week. GPs
have begun the task of vaccinating those in at-risk categories.
Last week, amid calls from the Conservatives, the Government announced it
planned to extend the vaccination programme to children aged between five and
Birmingham’s swine flu bonus plans
30-49.9% coverage – bonus of 10%
50-59.9% coverage – bonus of 15%
60-69.9% coverage – bonus of 20%
70-79.9% coverage – bonus of 25%
80-89.9% coverage – bonus of 30%
90-99.9% coverage – bonus of 50%
Source: Heart of Birmingham PCT