In recent years, the incidence of several pathogens of public health importance (measles, mumps, pertussis and rubella) has increased in Europe, leading to outbreaks. This has included England, where GP practices implement the vaccination programme based on government guidance. However, there has been no study of how implementation takes place, which makes it difficult to identify organisational variation and thus limits the ability to recommend interventions to improve coverage. The aim of this study is to undertake a comparative process evaluation of the implementation of the routine vaccination programme at GP practices in England.
We recruited a sample of geographically and demographically diverse GP practices through a national research network and collected quantitative and qualitative data as part of a Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing analysis between May 2017 and February 2018. We conducted semi-structured interviews with practice staff involved in vaccination, who then completed an activity log for 2 weeks. Interviews were transcribed and coded using a framework method.
Nine practices completed data collection from diverse geographic and socio-economic contexts, and 52 clinical and non-clinical staff participated in 26 interviews. Information relating to 372 vaccination appointments (233 childhood and 139 adult appointments) was captured using activity logs. We have defined a 14-stage care delivery value chain and detailed process map for vaccination. Areas of greatest variation include the method of reminder and recall activities, structure of vaccination appointments and task allocation between staff groups. For childhood vaccination, mean appointment length was 15.9 min (range 9.0–22.0 min) and 10.9 min for adults (range 6.8–14.1 min). Non-clinical administrative activities comprised 59.7% total activity (range 48.4–67.0%). Appointment length and total time were not related to coverage, whereas capacity in terms of appointments per eligible patient may improve coverage. Administrative tasks had lower fidelity of implementation.
There is variation in how GP practices in England implement the delivery of the routine vaccination programme. Further work is required to evaluate capacity factors in a wider range of practices, alongside other contextual factors, including the working culture within practices.