Month: March 2024

Increasing measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine uptake in primary care

Measles cases in the UK have increased recently; putting at risk the health of children who are unvaccinated.[1] What can primary care teams do to boost measles (MMR) vaccine uptake? I discuss some actions that general practices can take in a recent comment in the British Medical Journal.

Implementing an effective vaccination programme within a general practice requires a multifaceted approach; combining clear leadership, comprehensive staff training, patient education, and meticulous record-keeping. The collective effort of the entire practice team is essential for its success. Assigning a dedicated team member to lead the vaccination programme ensures focused oversight. It is crucial that all staff are well-informed about the vaccination programme, including eligibility criteria and the benefits of vaccination for individuals, families, the NHS, and society. This knowledge can be enhanced through free online training.[2]

Developing a set of Frequently Asked Questions based on official sources like NHS England and the UKHSA, and training staff in effective communication strategies, are key steps in addressing patient concerns and misinformation. Accuracy of medical records is essential, especially in urban areas with high population mobility, to avoid unnecessary vaccination reminders. Regular audits and updating vaccine status during patient registration can help maintain record accuracy.[3]

Effective patient communication about the MMR vaccine’s benefits requires using multiple channels, including text messages, emails, and social media, as well as during consultations, to ensure impact. Practices should also consider the cultural and linguistic diversity of their patients, using appropriate materials and partnering with community organisations to enhance outreach.

Accessible clinics are also essential. Vaccination should be offered during routine appointments and through additional channels like mobile clinics or community centres. Monitoring vaccine uptake and actively following up unvaccinated patients through reminders can significantly improve vaccination rates.[4]

For patients vaccinated outside the practice, it is important to verify and record their vaccination status. Motivating staff with incentives to meet vaccination targets and collaborating with community groups can further improve vaccine uptake.


1. Bedford H, Elliman D. Measles rates are rising again. BMJ 2024; 384 :q259 doi:10.1136/bmj.q259

2. NHS England Immunisation e-learning programme.

3. Carter J, Mehrotra A, Knights F, Deal A, Crawshaw AF, Farah Y, Goldsmith LP, Wurie F, Ciftci Y, Majeed A, Hargreaves S. “We don’t routinely check vaccination background in adults”: a national qualitative study of barriers and facilitators to vaccine delivery and uptake in adult migrants through UK primary care. BMJ Open. 2022 Oct 10;12(10):e062894. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-062894.

4. Williams N, Woodward H, Majeed A, Saxena S. Primary care strategies to improve childhood immunisation uptake in developed countries: systematic review. JRSM Short Rep. 2011 Oct;2(10):81. doi: 10.1258/shorts.2011.011112.

Community health and wellbeing workers: a solution for improving health and care in England

In the quest to refine healthcare delivery in England, this innovative approach, inspired by Brazil’s successful community healthcare model, is a promising solution to the challenges faced by the NHS. The strategy focuses on the deployment of Community Health and Wellbeing Workers (CHWWs) to foster more efficient, localised healthcare services. Our recent article in the British Journal of General Practice discusses the potential of this model and how it could revolutionise healthcare in communities across England.

The Inspiration from Brazil

Brazil’s community healthcare model stands as a testament to the power of grassroots health initiatives. Over the past two decades, this approach has led to significant improvements in health outcomes, including reductions in cardiovascular mortality, hospital admissions, and health inequalities. The core of Brazil’s success lies in the integration of CHWWs into the healthcare system. These workers serve as pivotal links between GPs, community services, local authorities, and the communities they serve, especially in marginalized areas.

Pilot Program in Westminster

A pilot program in Westminster tested the feasibility of this model in England. The results were promising, showing increased vaccination and screening rates, along with a 7% drop in unscheduled GP visits in the first year alone. This indicates that CHWWs not only meet the existing demand for healthcare services but also successfully reach those in need of care who might not seek it out.

Addressing the Workforce Crisis

Beyond improving healthcare delivery, training and employing CHWWs offer a strategic solution to the current NHS workforce crisis. By upskilling volunteers and providing them with pathways to employment within the NHS, this initiative could significantly alleviate workforce shortages. Moreover, the role of a CHWW, demanding cultural competence, a non-judgmental attitude, and strong problem-solving skills, represents an attractive career opportunity for individuals passionate about community service.

Potential Impact in England

The adaptation of Brazil’s community health worker model to the English context could yield even greater benefits due to the wider availability of services. Acting as catalysts between healthcare, social care, and public health, CHWWs could play a crucial role in improving population health status and outcomes. The initial successes observed in Westminster suggest that a nationwide deployment of CHWWs could lead to considerable savings within public health, social care, and NHS budgets, alongside notable improvements in public health.

Funding and Support

For the CHWW initiative to be sustainable, securing long-term and reliable funding is essential. Proposals suggest adding to the fixed part of the Public Health Grant as a viable funding source. This approach aligns with the broader goal of creating an English family health strategy, which is both a feasible and cost-effective solution to current healthcare challenges.


The introduction of Community Health and Wellbeing Workers in England represents a forward-thinking solution to improving healthcare accessibility and efficiency. Inspired by Brazil’s model, this approach offers a holistic and integrated strategy to address the pressing challenges of the NHS, including strained budgets, workforce shortages, and the need for improved public health outcomes. With appropriate funding, support, and expansion across the country, CHWWs have the potential to significantly enhance the healthcare landscape in England, making it more responsive to the needs of its diverse populations.

Streamlining Hypertension Care with the BP@Home Programme

The rapid shift towards digital health solutions, propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, has underscored the critical need for innovative approaches to healthcare delivery in the UK’s NHS. The BP@Home initiative, as explored in our recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE, stands out as a beacon of such innovation, aiming to revolutionise hypertension management in primary care settings across London.

The initiative, a response to the pandemic-induced transition to remote healthcare, supports patients with hypertension in self-monitoring their blood pressure at home. This programme not only aims to maintain continuous care for high-risk patients but also addresses a long-standing challenge of hypertension management — a leading contributor to cardiovascular diseases globally – in trying to improve blood pressure control.

Barriers and Facilitators to BP@Home Implementation

Despite its promise, the BP@Home initiative faces significant hurdles, primarily stemming from resource constraints — including IT, human, and financial resources. Healthcare professionals (HCPs) involved in the program highlighted several barriers, such as the distribution and tracking of blood pressure monitors, a lack of clear guidance on their use, and the substantial workload without commensurate financial incentives.

Conversely, the study also identified facilitators that could smooth the path for BP@Home’s implementation. These include robust communication channels, task-sharing among healthcare teams, and the integration of the programme into daily clinical practice. Moreover, providing blood pressure monitors on prescription and leveraging the role of pharmacists emerged as practical strategies to address logistical challenges.

Towards a More Equitable and Efficient Healthcare Delivery

The insights garnered from the study illuminate the complex dynamics of implementing a remote healthcare initiative within an already stretched healthcare system. The recommendations put forth — centred on project management, logistics, engagement of primary care networks & practices, and patient engagement — offer a roadmap for overcoming the identified barriers.

The BP@Home initiative, by incorporating a person-centred approach and maintaining flexibility in patient engagement (including non-digital options), paves the way for a healthcare model that is not only responsive to the current COVID-19 pandemic but is also resilient in the face of future healthcare challenges.

A Call to Action for Future Healthcare Innovations

The successful implementation of BP@Home and similar initiatives requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders involved — from policy makers and healthcare managers to frontline health care professionals and patients . It highlights the importance of adapting healthcare delivery to meet the evolving needs of the population, leveraging technology to bridge the gap between patients and providers, and ensuring equitable access to healthcare services.

As we move forward, the lessons learned from BP@Home can inform the development of future healthcare innovations, emphasising the need for a healthcare system that is adaptable, patient-centric, and equitable. It is through such initiatives that we can hope to achieve a more sustainable and effective healthcare delivery model, capable of addressing the multifaceted health challenges of the 21st century.