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Over 1,000 frontline hospital staff without flu jab in Bucks

Bucks Healthcare say they have been working hard to get staff vaccinated.

Published by Dan Gooding at 6:09am 3rd February 2020. 4-minute read.

Over 1,000 frontline hospital staff without flu jab in Bucks

Nearly 2,000 doctors, nurses and other frontline staff at Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust have not had a flu jab to protect themselves and their patients, new figures reveal.

The Society for Acute Medicine says it is concerning that many NHS staff across England who deal with patients have not been vaccinated.

The latest Public Health England statistics show that 1,972 of 5,999 frontline workers at the trust were not vaccinated against flu by the end of December.

Doctors, nurses, clinical staff and support workers involved in direct patient care are encouraged to have the jab.

Trusts have financial incentives for staff uptake, receiving full payment if at least 80% have it, and a decreasing amount down to 60% coverage, below which they get nothing.

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The target is measured between September and February, and the payment varies depending on the size of the trust’s contract.

The proportion of staff who had the vaccine by the end of December differed widely across the 235 trusts that submitted figures.

The East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust recorded 93.9% of staff having the vaccination, while the uptake rate was just 36.2% at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, described the disparity as “worrying”.

“The NHS has enough to worry about without further issues with staff being unwell when it may have been prevented.

“We know there is a financial incentive for NHS trusts to get their staff vaccinated but I would hope the health need and protection it offers would be more than enough to persuade people.”

Across England, the 68.5% uptake rate at the end of December was better than at the same point a year earlier, when it stood at 65.8%.

Dr Doug Brown, chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, said the flu vaccine is the best protection we have against a virus that can lead to serious illness in vulnerable groups.

He added:

“It is extremely important to continue to increase seasonal flu vaccine uptake among frontline healthcare workers to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and causing serious illness in at-risk groups.”

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust told us they have been working hard to get people vaccinated.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital

A spokesperson said:

"The Trust has worked hard to ensure that all staff, especially frontline healthcare staff (doctors, nurses, other qualified clinical staff and support workers involved in direct patient care), have had the opportunity to have a flu vaccination.

"The current Trust uptake for frontline staff of 68.4% sits above the regional uptake of 65.4% which was reported at the end of December and is over 8% higher than the Trust's position the end of the flu campaign last year. With four weeks left until the end of the 2019/20 national flu programme, the Trust continues to implement its flu plans to achieve the national target of 80%.

"This year's campaign, which got underway at the end of September, was interrupted at the start by delays to availability of the vaccine. Despite this the Trust 'flu busters team' has run a positive campaign drawing on ideas and experience from other strong performing trusts and providing flu clinics at all sites as well as pop up clinics at key staff events.

"In addition, over 50 peer vaccinators walk around all wards and areas of all sites on a regular basis throughout the season to offer flu vaccinations. Staff who have had a vaccination elsewhere are asked to inform the occupational health team so this can be recorded.

"It is important to note that the flu vaccination is not mandatory and members of staff who choose not to have a flu vaccination are asked to let us know and provide reasons why. This information means the flu vaccination status of nearly 75% of Trust frontline staff is known."

An NHS spokesman said:

“Flu can cause serious illness and adds significant pressure to the health services, which is why NHS staff have worked hard to achieve a record level of uptake for the vaccine so far this year, with almost 50,000 more frontline staff choosing to protect themselves, their patients and colleagues from flu.”

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