A superintendent pharmacist has warned that branches of his independent chain will need to start turning away patients requesting flu jabs as early as next week due to record demand.
Peter Horrocks, superintendent pharmacist at Knights Pharmacy, said that despite ordering 30 per cent more vaccines than in 2019 “we are now out of stock in our warehouse and the only vaccine left is residual stocks currently being used from within the pharmacy”.
He said that over the first three weeks of the service Knights branches have “pretty much delivered what you would normally see in the whole season.” In addition to over-65s there has been strong interest from health and social care workers, he told Pharmacy Network News.
“I anticipate all stock will be gone at some point next week,” he said, adding that while he had a “small delayed provision of stock due in October” most of this has already been pre-ordered by patients eligible for free NHS flu jabs.
“Speaking with colleagues across the sector many of us are in the same position,” he added.
Mr Horrocks told PNN that he placed his orders well in advance of the flu season. “During the pandemic I attempted to contact suppliers to increase my orders but was faced with a response that there were no more vaccines available as any surplus had been picked up by central procurement.
“During Rishi Sunak’s visit to my pharmacy he also confirmed the funding that had purchased these.”
Mr Horrocks said the Government had not been clear enough on when it will release this additional stock (the most NHS/DHSC flu letter said guidance would be issued in September).
He told PNN he was concerned about whether pharmacies would be given equal priority to GPs in accessing additional stocks. He also said that if the Government plans supplies to wholesalers rather than directly to pharmacies, he worries that “in the hands of the three main wholesalers we will not see equitable distribution across the sector – like we experienced with Government PPE supplies”.
“We don’t know what the distribution mechanism will be,” he said.
“After next week my pharmacy teams will have to start turning patients away, damaging the reputation of our pharmacies in being able to deliver a first class convenient service.
“Having personally delivered my own fair share of vaccines this year, numerous patients are telling me they are so pleased we are offering the service as they didn’t want to or are unable to go to the surgery clinics.”