NHS England, Public Health England, the Department of Health and NHS Improvement have today unveiled measures to boost the uptake of flu vaccinations along with package of new contingency actions to respond to pressures on frontline services this winter.
Intensified preparations include:
- Providing free flu vaccines for hundreds of thousands of care home staff at a cost of up to £10m as well as increasing the number of jabs for young children in schools and vulnerable people
- Directing NHS trusts to ensure they make vaccines readily available to staff and record why those who choose to opt out of the programme do so
- Writing to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers reminding them of their professional duty to protect patients by being vaccinated
- Setting up a new National Emergency Pressure Panel to provide independent clinical advice on system risk and an appropriate regional and national response
- The biggest expansion in training for A&E consultants ever with hundreds more doctors over the next four years and other healthcare staff
Many people with flu show no symptoms, meaning healthcare workers who feel fit and healthy can unwittingly infect vulnerable patients. Getting vaccinated is the best way to stop the spread of influenza and prevent deaths. It can also ease pressures that a heavy flu outbreak would place on services such as doctors’ surgeries and busy hospital wards, like those seen recently in Australia and New Zealand.
NHS staff are already offered the vaccination for free to protect patients and the public. This winter, in recognition of how important this is, NHS England will extend free jabs to up to more than one million care home workers and has set aside £10m to fund it.
Commenting on NHS England’s decision to offer complimentary flu vaccinations to care home workers, Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, a representative body for independent providers of adult social care, says:
“We applaud NHS England’s policy to offer free flu jabs to workers in care homes. Care England has long campaigned on this issue. In the past the independent sector has been overlooked and providers have had to foot the bill themselves which in a climate of severe financial pressures has been difficult. Being ready for winter and offering extra capacity to the already stretched NHS is yet another area where the independent sector can help”.
In a circular from NHS England, Department of Health and Public Health England the new programme for vaccinating the ‘at risk’ was unveiled. It highlighted the virulent strain of flu in Australia and New Zealand and echoed messages of needing to prepare front line health and social care staff.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, National Medical Director of NHS England says:
“This is a timely reminder to employers and staff that we all have a professional responsibility to protect ourselves, and by doing so better protect our patients and reducing the pressure on services.”