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Pre-travel health services

The following is an extract of the GP Mythbuster 107: Pre-travel health services.  The full article is available here.

Travel health services are provided by a range of NHS and independent healthcare providers.

These include (but not limited to):

  • General Practice
  • Private Travel Clinics
  • Pharmacies

In England, a GP Practice needs to be registered with CQC if they provide travel health services delivered by a doctor or nurse.  Providing travel health services IS part of the core GP contract, however, not all travel vaccines are available on the NHS.

Provision of travel health services includes:

  • pre-travel risk assessments
  • travel health advice including malaria prevention
  • advising which vaccines are available on the NHS
  • directing travellers to another provider for advice on non-NHS vaccines, as necessary.

In General Practice, this service is often delegated to general practice nurses (GPNs).  Under the General Medical Council’s Good Medical Practice, the GP delegating must be satisfied that the person providing care has the appropriate qualifications, skills and experience to provide safe care for the patient.

Registered nurses delivering travel health services are professionally accountable to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and must work within the NMC Code (2015).

When CQC inspect

We will look for evidence that providers have systems to ensure that staff:

  • are recruited appropriately
  • operate within the limits of their capability, scope of practice and competency
  • receive appropriate information, support and supervision to enable them to carry out their role.


We will expect systems or processes to be in place to assess, monitor and mitigate the risks relating to the health, safety and welfare of patients. For example, this will include

  • Using a recognised online tool to identify country-specific risks to help make recommendations.  Country-specific risks include vaccine-preventable and mosquito-borne diseases.
  • A comprehensive travel health risk assessment completed for each person using the service.
  • Clear documentation of the risk assessment for all vaccines given, medicine prescribed, or advised, and vaccines declined.
  • Risk assessment of the emergency equipment and medicines required. As a minimum, this must include adrenaline.
  • Working within the relevant legal framework for the administration of medicines. This includes PGDs, PSDs, use of unlicensed and off-label medicines.
  • Safe storage of medicines, including vaccines.

Further information

Competencies: travel health nursing: career and competence development (Royal College of Nursing)

Good Practice Guidance for Providing a Travel Health Service (Faculty of Travel Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow).

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