Community pharmacies vaccinating against COVID-19 saved 20,000 lives to September 2021, according to figures based on a National Audit Office (NAO) report issued today.
The public expenditure watchdog, having taken evidence from the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), highlighted that community pharmacies and GPs went far beyond expectations in delivering the COVID-19 vaccine. 71 per cent of vaccinations were administered by both healthcare providers up to the end of October 2021, against an initial planning assumption of 56 per cent.
The report cites UK Health Security Agency figures which estimated that the programme overall prevented up to 128,000 deaths and 262,000 hospitalisations by 24 September and 19 September respectively.
Using these and other figures in the report, the NPA calculates that pharmacies saved nearly 20,000 lives up to autumn 2021. It is probable that the number is now considerably higher, given the central role played by pharmacies in this winter’s phase of the programme.
NAO’s Rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in England report examined how well placed the government is to meet its full objectives for the COVID-19 vaccine programme. It looks at success factors, future aims and challenges, sustainability and value for money.
The report stated that “national and local partners showed an ability to adapt quickly, for example the rapid shift to deliver more vaccinations through GPs and pharmacies”.
In terms of delivery costs, dedicated vaccination centres have been the most expensive method at £34 per dose compared with £24 for GPs and community pharmacies.
Andrew Lane, chair of the NPA said:
“We are delighted to have worked with the NAO on this important report covering the contribution of community pharmacies in the Covid-19 vaccine programme. Vaccinations delivered by community pharmacies helped save thousands of lives, which is an incredible achievement, but only one aspect of the sector’s valuable work on the NHS frontline during the pandemic.”
The National Audit Office scrutinises public spending for Parliament and helps to hold the government to account.
You can access the report by clicking here.