Commissioning group faces criticism for lack of coherent information

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Bedford Borough Council’s Health & Wellbeing Board met on September 8, 2021, at which Mayor Dave Hodgson wanted reassurance from Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (BLMK CCG) that the upcoming flu vaccination programme will not be a repeat previous ‘fiascoes’.

The mayor said: “People have been told to go to their GP, who then refers them to the pharmacist, who then sends them back to the GP.

“Eventually, people just give up.

“Is there a coordinated approach between GPs and pharmacies so that people won’t be increasing their carbon footprint by driving between one and the other?”

Alison Joyner, interim associate director – vaccination strategy lead at BLMK CCG, said: “The coordination between the delivery points for the flu and the COVID booster will be better because we are focussing on this.

“We’ve got to be clear and work with those delivery points to ensure that everyone knows what we expect, which cohorts they need to be focussing on, and also to direct people in the right way.”

She added that the communications built up from the COVID vaccination programme will ensure people “don’t spend time trying to find it [the flu vaccine] from different sources.”

Referring back to information about possible delays to the delivery of the flu jab, Mayor Hodgson said that the communication isn’t clear:

“I wasn’t aware that there were different vaccines for different age ranges.

“I think it would really help if the public were told this.

“So, I don’t think communication around this is particularly good.

“And I don’t think it has been in previous years.”

Alison Joyner said: “We can obviously improve in our communications and that is one of the challenges.”

Councillor Louise Jackson (Labour, Harpur Ward), who was chairing the meeting, said: “We’ve learnt a lot over the last year about how to communicate.

“We know more about our communities than ever before.

“It is important that we don’t miss the opportunity to get that information out, for the flu jab as well as the COVID vaccine.”