NHS vaccination strategy highlights role of digital services, national data record and NHS App in promoting access, uptake and delivery

NHS England has published the new NHS vaccination strategy, highlighting the role of digital services, a national vaccination data record and the NHS App in promoting access, uptake, and delivery.

Bringing together all vaccination programmes, the strategy aims to “start a conversation, within integrated care boards (ICBs) and the wider health and care system, about how we can use vaccination to deliver holistic, person-centred, preventative care via flexible teams that span primary and community care as well as other sectors”. The new strategy has three priority areas: improving access including an expansion of online services, providing vaccine delivery in “convenient local places” with targeted outreach to support uptake in underserved populations, and developing a “more joined-up prevention and vaccination offer”.

On improving access including an expansion of online services, the strategy outlines the need for people to be able to book vaccines quickly and easily, including via the NHS app, where they can view their full vaccination record and be provided with “clear information and guidance on what vaccinations they should have to keep them well”.

The National Booking Service (NBS) is already available for those looking to book flu or COVID-19 vaccinations, and this will be expanded in 2024/25 to include online booking for adult life course vaccinations. From 2025/26, it is the NHS’s ambition to use the NHS app to allow access to “a wider group of vaccinations for adults, children and young people”, including in-app bookings, appointment notifications, and access to vaccination records. Digital tools will be provided to systems to help them identify those who are unvaccinated or who require a catch-up offer.

The strategy sets out a series of proposals for partners and stakeholders including NHS England, ICBs and the DHSC. A proposal on advancing timely and accurate data is to make it easier for healthcare workers to capture vaccination event data, including increased automation. NHS England also commits to working with DHSC, UKHSA and NHS Supply Chain to increase collaboration and data sharing at a national level, including a central view of vaccine supply and early warning of supply limitations; and the coordination of management of all supply chains and their data flows.

On data, the strategy notes that a key target will be ensuring that “timely and accurate data is available from GPs and other providers”, which should be visible at national, regional, and local level to support the planning of targeted outreach services. Under next steps, the strategy prioritises building digital services capability for 2023/24.

At a national level, the strategy details that single digital services should be commissioned and maintained “where it makes sense to do so”, such as for national booking systems. It also highlights the need for a national data reporting system, which will enable all vaccination data to be held nationally, allowing for the development of national performance reports.

To read the strategy in full, please click here.

Elsewhere on data, NHS England has published its enhanced health in care homes (EHCH) framework, highlighting a series of digital enablers including digital readiness and data sharing, to support the provision of proactive care.

Earlier this month, the NHS England board met to discuss operational and financial performance, to provide an update on the Federated Data Platform, and the role of tech in the delivery of the primary care access recovery plan.