Eight Million British Tourists At Risk

Increasing numbers of GP surgeries are opting out of providing vaccination
and immunisation services leaving up to eight million British tourists
ill-prepared for their holidays and at risk of contracting serious but
preventable tropical diseases.
Holidaymakers from the South East who are visiting countries, such as,
Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean and Central and South America
can no longer rely on GPs for travel vaccinations and immunisations in this
area, as 38% of GP Practices have opted out of providing such a
service.

Over the last ten years, the combination of cheaper airfares and a desire to
visit exotic locations has doubled the number of British tourists travelling
to distant parts of the world where vaccinations are required.*  For many
doctors the increase in demand for vaccinations against tropical diseases is
placing too big a burden on surgery budgets.

Dr. Leslie Hawkins, director of the Robens Vaccination Clinic, said: “With
increasing pressure on GPs, many are deciding they just don’t have the time
or money to be able to offer vaccination and immunisation services
effectively any more. Travel health medicine is about disease prevention and
health promotion, this cannot be covered in the usual 5 -10 minute practice
nurse consultation. To set up a dedicated health clinic to effectively meet
the needs of travellers can be a significant cost to GP practices.”

He continued: “But the concern is that many holidaymakers do too little, too
late, only relying on a visit to their GP just weeks before their holiday
for travel health advice and jabs.  With more GPs opting out, holidaymakers
may be left with insufficient time to be properly protected when they travel
abroad. Holidaymakers must seek advice early from a travel health
professional, ideally at least 8 weeks in advance, as vaccinations can take
time to be effective.”


He added: “The importance of taking specialist travel health advice should
not be underestimated.  It’s not just about administering the vaccination,
many GPs don’t have the time required to find out where people are going,
where exactly they will be staying, how long they plan to be there and what
medication they might be on.”

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