Administrative challenges to stall UK’s Covid-19 vaccine programme. Is appointment booking software the answer?

Imogen Wethered
by Imogen Wethered

The UK may have been the first western nation to approve a Covid-19 vaccine – and it, too, was the first to roll out the Pfizer Covid-19 jab – but we’re not in clear waters just yet. A number of reports have highlighted the administrative nightmare we are up against.

Only one in two people in UK will be vaccinated by the end of 2021

Earlier this week, more than 100 locally run vaccination centres set up across England successfully administered the Pfizer jab – a small phase in the UK’s larger vaccine rollout programme.

But a number of reports have highlighted that, for most people, the vaccine might be further away than first thought.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said the scale of the vaccination programme “should not be underestimated”, pointing out that vaccinating the entire UK population against COVID-19 could take up to a year, even with no interruptions.

Together with Professor Tim Cook, a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care, Farrar said: “1,000 vaccination centres each vaccinating 500 people a day for five days a week, without interruptions of supply or delivery, would take almost a year to provide two doses to the UK population.”

Government spending watchdog National Audit Office (NAO) has also investigated the government’s current vaccination programme and found less than half of the UK will be vaccinated against COVID-19 in 2021 if things go as planned.

It said NHS England and NHS Improvement “is planning on the assumption it could vaccinate up to 25 million people with two doses throughout 2021”.

Poor IT system forces GPs to record patient details with pen and paper

The first week of vaccination rollouts saw a number of problems arise that were of a more practical nature. For instance, Sky News has reported that the IT system the government is using to keep track of the patients that have received the vaccine, known as Pinnacle, was “failing constantly” and GPs were “having to record on paper and then transfer”.

There were also concerns about the how effective the system is for recording and booking appointments, which is known in the field as “call and recall”.

Right now NHS GPs, nurses and pharmacists will inoculate patients from existing doctors’ surgeries or community hubs. This combined with the flu vaccine expansion, will see an increase of 64.1 million vaccinations compared with 2019-20.

An effective appointment booking software is now a must-have

Throughout the pandemic, the government has asked retailers and other organisations to continuously adapt to rapidly changing guidelines, from installing sneeze guard screens and one-way systems, through to encouraging businesses to use virtual queuing systems and appointments booking software to enforce social distancing.

However, to successfully administer the vaccine across the country, the government needs to implement an effective and efficient booking system that allows health professionals and patients to easily book appointments and follow up appointments for Covid-19 vaccinations alongside flu jabs.

Find out more about appointment booking software.

This is something many NHS clinics and other healthcare organisations will have to take into their own hands. In fact, a number of pharmacy retailers are leading the way in this regard already, such as Tesco, who earlier this year allowed customers to easily book flu jabs through Qudini’s Appointment Booking System.

How Tesco’s flu jab customer journey works

1) Tesco has set up a specific microsite for its flu jab service which is visible through search and clickable from tesco.com.

2) From there, customers are asked to complete a brief and easy to complete questionnaire to check that customers are not experiencing Covid-19 or flu symptoms beforehand, and to ensure they don’t suffer from any allergies that may prevent them from receiving the flu jab.

3) To confirm their appointment, customers are then asked further questions to support the pharmacist.

4) Customers then have the option of choosing between a free NHS flu jab (if they are eligible) or to pay £9.

5) They can then select a time-slot that suits them to visit their chosen store and complete their personal details.

Find out more about Tesco’s flu jab customer journey

For more information on how appointment booking software can be implemented across your organisation, get in touch with me at info@qudini.com to book a free consultation.

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