The NHS is urging all frontline healthcare workers to ensure they receive their flu jab before winter hits
NHS Improvement has announced that all frontline staff in the NHS will be expected to receive their flu jab in a move to protect patients from the illness, HSJ has reported.
Last winter saw the UK suffering the worst flu season in ten years, with high levels of norovirus being seen, putting the health service under heavier-than-usual pressure.
NHS England wrote to the royal colleges during the summer asking them to provide an action plan to increase staff levels of flu vaccines. 68.7% of NHS staff received the vaccine last year.
NHS England an NHS Improvement have now taken that request further, stating that staff refusing their vaccination should be asked why.
NHS England’s chief nursing officer Professor Jane Cummings said: “NHS staff did a remarkable job last winter as the health service faced a perfect storm of flu, stomach bugs and unusually severe weather.
“By getting vaccinated against flu, health care workers can protect themselves, their families, colleagues and patients, making sure we have a healthy workforce and helping to reduce the pressure on services over winter.”
Social care workers receive the vaccine free of charge, while independent providers – such as GPs and community pharmacists – are expected to offer the vaccination to their frontline staff.
Responding to this drive, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said:
“We absolutely support this drive to encourage NHS staff to have their flu jab this winter, and we would urge all members of the primary care team, including those who work in residential and care homes, to be vaccinated early in the season, for their own health, as well as their patients”.
“Just being healthcare professionals puts us at higher risk of contracting influenza as we mix with so many people, and there is now clear evidence that unvaccinated frontline NHS staff are frequently asymptomatic carriers of the flu virus, so are unaware that they are passing it on to vulnerable patients. Getting vaccinated not only protects yourself, but your colleagues and patients.
“Flu puts an incredible amount of pressure on general practice and the wider NHS every year, so it’s important that we take whatever steps we can to stop the spread of the virus, in the best interests of ourselves and our teams, our patients, and the national health service.”