Family talking to a doctor

Improving immunisation uptake in the Thames Valley

Reducing the significant variation in immunisation uptake between GP practices across the Thames Valley was the challenge facing our Improving Immunisation Uptake Team.

The Improving Immunisation Uptake (IIU) team comprises two clinicians and a data administrator who work directly with GP Practices across the Thames Valley to improve the uptake of childhood immunisations.

The aim was to reduce the significant variation in immunisation uptake between GP practices across the Thames Valley and increase overall immunisation rates to achieve effective health protection for children.

The challenge

The project set out to reduce the significant variation in immunisation uptake between GP practices across the Thames Valley and increase overall immunisation rates to achieve effective health protection for children. The challenge was to secure the engagement of underperforming GP Practices, who initially were reluctant to be involved. These practices had been identified by the Child Health Information Service (CHIS) Information Team and passed to the IIU team to enable engagement.

What we delivered

A targeted approach was used to identify and prioritise those practices with lower-performing child immunisation rates that could most benefit from the team's support. The IIU team concentrated on these target practices using a whole practice approach which involved all the primary health care team working together to review all the processes and identify improvements that could be made.

Once practices were identified the IIU team facilitated these multi-professional practice meetings with the aim of:

  • Reviewing practice-wide processes
  • Offering 1:1 and group support sessions. These were tailored to each practice’s needs and could involve one or a number of face-to-face sessions, followed by telephone support depending on requirements
  • Promoting evidence-based practice to support operational improvements, for example, new processes for databases to manage missing immunisation records
  • Providing tools produced by the IIU team to support the delivery of the immunisation programme including customisable templates for new registration pack documents to capture child immunisation details, and a GP practice toolkit containing key reference and signposting information
  • Identifying a practice admin lead to oversee and monitor the immunisation programme by reviewing and cleansing data provided by SCW, following up non-attendees who are not responding to SCW invitation letters; and deregistering identified ghost patients.

The outcome

The results of this year-long initiative which was funded by NHS England have been extremely positive. At the start of this initiative in July 2018, the variation in immunisation uptake amongst GP Practices across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire (BOB) ranged from 40% to 94%. To achieve herd immunity and provide adequate protection to both individuals and the wider community, all GP Practices should be achieving an immunisation uptake rate of 95%. By May 2019, so less than a year later, the original variation had been reduced significantly with all GP Practices across BOB achieving at least 80% uptake and with 90% of GP Practices achieving over 85% immunisation uptake and 5% of GP Practices achieving over 95%. With support from the IIUT, some practices have seen an increase of over 20% in their statistics. 

Other successes are evident in addition to the quantifiable results. Individual practices have been given the opportunity to review their approach to immunisations, enabling the practices to work in a smarter way. For instance, the initiative has overhauled the new registration process within practices; thereby ensuring the collection of immunisation histories has a raised profile at the earliest contact with the children to ensure accuracy of data. This has the real benefit of children only being called for immunisations that are due, rather than those which are missing from a record. 

The pilot enabled practices to work alongside families, to better understand their issues and problems, and devise solutions to help them participate in the immunisation programme, such as the need for greater flexibility of appointments to fit around family and work commitments

The IIU initiative has enabled NHS England to improve Immunisation uptake rates significantly across the Thames Valley which has allowed them to achieve their aim of providing greater health protection within the community. After the pilot scheme, the service is now being offered on a permanent basis in the Thames Valley region.

Lessons learned

The key lesson learned is the importance of having accurate and complete data to reliably identify those GP Practices most in need of intervention and to then secure the effective engagement of those practices. To facilitate the necessary change in practices required the involvement and commitment of the entire practice team for the most successful outcomes.

Customer feedback

I would like to unreservedly recommend the Improving Immunisation Uptake Team as we found their support invaluable in increasing our immunisation uptake figures. Meeting held with all stakeholders helped us identify problem areas like missing immunisation histories and improve our processes by using patient data more effectively. Louise Upton, Practice Manager South Reading and Shinfield Group Medical Practice.

Read more about Improving Immunisation Uptake Team

For more information or to discuss improvements to immunisation uptake, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.- Director of Child Health Information Services (CHIS).

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