Booking a jab in the North West is 'as easy as booking a cab' in NHS App overhaul
Monday, 18 December 2023
The NHS has set out how people in the North West will benefit from better access to life-saving vaccinations, following the success of initiatives already trialled in the region during the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The ambitious NHS vaccination strategy, published on Wednesday, 13 December, outlines how getting vaccinations will be made easier than ever before, including through expansion of the NHS App, ‘one stop shops’ and community outreach.
The improvements build on schemes such as Cheshire and Merseyside’s Living Well Bus, which sees NHS teams taking vaccinations out into the heart of local communities alongside wider health checks, pop-up family vaccination clinics at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and the roving Fylde Coast vaccination bus that takes flu and Covid vaccines into communities across Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director for Commissioning and senior responsible officer for the vaccination programme for NHS England North West, said:
“Having access to vaccinations is the best way to protect yourself against a variety of infections, from meningitis to Covid.
“The national vaccination strategy builds on decades of experience and lessons learned more recently through the COVID-19 vaccination programme, which saw extraordinary efforts by NHS teams and local partners to deliver vaccinations into the heart of communities where we traditionally see lower vaccine uptake rates.
“I’m really proud that some of the innovative approaches we have already seen in the North West to improve access to vaccinations are now part of the national strategy for increasing uptake and helping to ensure more people can get their potentially life-saving protection from vaccines.”
Last week marked the anniversary of the world’s first ever COVID-19 vaccination and today’s NHS vaccination strategy builds on that programme, which has allowed adults to book their own vaccine appointments online and to get vaccinated in a range of non-NHS settings.
Health and care professionals will focus efforts on going into the heart of communities to protect unvaccinated people who are less well-served by traditional health services – taking vaccines closer to people’s homes and offering in-person support to improve vaccine confidence, as well as offering the chance to get a jab.
Vaccinations will become part of a ‘one-stop shop’ with NHS staff set to expand the offer of blood pressure tests and other health checks and advice, alongside routine vaccinations, while local health teams will have more flexibility to locate vaccine services in convenient local places such as community centres, sport facilities and places of worship.
Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Living Well Bus has delivered more than 900 outreach clinics over the past 12 months, giving more than 20,000 Covid vaccines and 27,000 health screening checks.
Linda McMullen, 70, hadn’t booked in for her Covid vaccine this year, but when the NHS Living Well Bus visited her local area in Chapel Street, Southport, she decided to take up the offer.
Linda said: “I took the opportunity to have it as we were there shopping. Very convenient. Fantastic service, given all relevant information. Both nurses professional and friendly. I did not feel the injection being given!”
Other North West schemes that have been trialled to improve access to vaccines include:
- The introduction of a dedicated outpatient nurse vaccinator at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in autumn 2022 to provide flu vaccines for staff and patients and catch-up immunisations for children, including in the inpatient areas. The Trust also established a pop-up family clinic offering Covid vaccines on site for children and adults from April to July 2022.
- School health teams attending a parents’ evening at a school in Trafford, Manchester, to address barriers to people consenting to their child’s vaccinations.
Under the new plans, pillions more people nationally will be able to view their full vaccination record and book in for vaccines such as MMR and HPV on the NHS App over the coming months and years.
This will increase the regional uptake of lifesaving vaccinations, ensuring many more people receive protection against a range of diseases.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England said:
“Just over three years ago Maggie Keenan was the first person in the world to receive an approved covid-19 jab and since that momentous day, the NHS covid-19 vaccination programme has delivered over 156 million covid jabs and saved tens of thousands of lives – our vision for the future of vaccinations published on Tuesday sets out how we plan to build on this huge success and save even more lives.
“Through the NHS app, we’ll make sure booking a jab can be as easy as booking a cab so millions more people can get vaccinated – users will be able to access their full vaccine status in a matter of seconds and book jabs with a simple swipe and tap.”
Over 33 million people are already signed up to the NHS App. Currently, most NHS app users can view their COVID-19 and flu vaccination status via the NHS App, but the NHS will be increasing the visibility of routine vaccine-preventable diseases, making it easier for people to identify any missed vaccinations in their history.
Booking and receiving more than one vaccine in a single visit will also become easier, building on a big year-on-year increase in the number of winter flu and COVID-19 vaccines offered at the same time.
This has been supported by a joint online and telephone booking service and by combined invitations, both for the first time, as part of the current winter vaccines campaign, which remains open for bookings until the end of Thursday, 14 December. After that date, people may still be able to get Covid vaccines at walk-in clinics and outreach services across the North West up to the end of January 2024.