As an NHS GP I’m bound to be involved in this programme, although the actual vaccinations will be carried out by the practice nurses. I’m immediately suspicious of the published costings.
We are told that 840,000 babies are to be vaccinated per annum. Using Rotarix (GlaxoSmithKline) the cheaper of the two available vaccines and with two doses needed to complete the course, at £25 per dose – which is the figure used by the JCVI in their cost/benefit calculations – my calculator says the vaccine alone will cost £42M. Knowing the DoH they probably imagine GPs can be pressured into doing the work for squat – and in present circumstances they may just be right – but there’s still a £17M hole here. There’s also the question of opportunity cost: what as GPs are we going to have to skimp on to get the extra work done? We are – believe me – all working our butts off. There really is no slack in the system at all. Everywhere I look I see risks taken – unacceptable risks in my view – to maintain any kind of service.
Incidentally, as with the Cervical Cancer vaccine programme, I think we can safely bet the house that the DoH has selected the less effective vaccine so as to save money.
That aside, at least £42M pa for the programme, 14,000 hospital admissions prevented = an assumed cost of £3,000 per admission before it breaks even. Hospital treatment is mighty expensive, but £3,000 still goes quite a long way.
Rotavirus can do nasty things to small babies and toddlers, especially to those already vulnerable from other causes, but the vast majority of children shrug it off without coming to significant harm.
I think we should be making vaccine available at a knock-down price, but privately, to parents who want it. What is Child Allowance for after all?
A Member of the Public Questions Costings
The programme is expected to cost £25 million but is also expected to save £20 million …
No wonder the public sector is bankrupting this country.