GP surgeries have been urged to focus on adults in at-risk groups during the latest phase of the coronavirus vaccination programme.

Vaccination centres have been inviting all adults aged 65 and over as well as those at risk between the ages of 16 and 65 since last week.

But now they have been told to put those at risk first and that 65-69-year-olds will shortly receive invitations from a mass vaccination site, such as the Bournemouth International Centre.

Over 65s are currently listed as the fifth priority group - cohort 5 - and those at risk as cohort 6.

In a letter sent to GPs and Primary Care Networks(PCNs) at the weekend Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS England’s Medical Director for Primary Care, said: “PCN sites should focus their efforts on inviting cohort six, which includes a wider group of people at higher clinical risk, including carers and young adults in residential settings.

“Building on the outstanding success General Practice has already shown in targetting vaccines for the clinically extremely vulnerable, it makes sense now to ask PCNs to focus on this group six given the relationship between general practice and those with long term conditions, and your important role in maintaining continuity of care.

“Cohort five will shortly start receiving an invitation from the national booking service (NBS) to attend a vaccination centre or community pharmacy setting.”

A spokesman for NHS England said anyone who would prefer to wait for a vaccination at their GP surgery is allowed to do so.

After receiving the letter, a spokesman for the Coastal Medical Partnership in the New Forest told patients: “We have invited two thirds of our 65-69 year olds already but have received instruction from NHS England not to make any further invitations for this cohort.

“Instead, the remainder will receive invitations direct from NHS England to attend a mass vaccination centre. Please do not call our reception team or request to speak to your GP or Nurse about this, as they have no jurisdiction to book you in at our vaccination centre, at New Milton Health Centre.”

The partnership also includes The Arnewood Practice and Barton Webb-Peploe.

The spokesman added: “If this affects you, please be patient and await your invite from NHS England, which will contain more details regarding venue and bookings.”

So far all those in priority groups one to four have been invited for a jab across England.

These include residents and staff in care homes for older adults, over 80s, frontline health and social care workers, followed by over 75s and over 70s.