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Staff flu vaccination rates to affect hospital funding

Hospital staff are being told to have the winter flu jab - or risk their A&E departments missing out on crucial funding.

A £500m government bailout, announced last month, will see £250m ploughed into services this year to prepare for the extra pressure of winter. But the remaining £250m pot for 2014-15 will only be shared by those trusts whose staff flu vaccination rates reach at least 75% this winter.

Last year, fewer than half of frontline NHS staff had the jab, with the figure fewer than one in five in some hospitals.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We can’t ignore the fact that winter brings extra pressure for the NHS, particularly in already busy A&E departments. That’s why we’re helping the A&E departments that need it the most with a £250m support fund this year and next.

“One of the simplest ways we can support hospitals under pressure and protect patients is to target flu. On average, around 27,000 people spend time in hospital because of flu each winter.

“So this year and next I want every trust to vaccinate more than 75% of staff against flu to protect vulnerable patients and staff. To make sure that happens, we’ve set this tough 75% target for every hospital hoping to get winter funding next year.”

The Department of Health believes such a dramatic rise in uptake of the jab is possible, singling out the Royal Liverpool University Hospital for praise as it vaccinated more than 80% of staff last winter.

Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said: “Frontline staff, by the very nature of their jobs, deal with people who are unwell every day. Simply by having the flu vaccine, as recommended by the GMC, NHS staff can play an important role in not picking up the flu virus and passing it on to other patients - often people who are already poorly and vulnerable to infection.

“Currently less than half of frontline NHS staff get vaccinated against flu - and in some hospitals, this figure drops to fewer than one in five. I urge all frontline staff to get vaccinated and encourage their colleagues to do so too.”

Another measure to tackle flu is a nasal spray vaccine for two and three-year-olds, to be administered at GP surgeries from next month.


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Readers' comments (39)

  • So informed choice is only for patients!!

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  • So if I choose not to be vaccinated - as is my perogative, my trust will suffer as a result of my personal choice......

    this is just bullying tactics - thought the NHS wanted to oust bullying culture - not encourage it??!!

    Absolutely shocking...disgusted!

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  • Totally shocked by this proposal, how can anyone think that this proposal is ethical? If this was suggested by another country we would be rightly horrified. I usually have a flu jab but I will not be having one via occupational health again, I don't will not be used in this way by anyone.

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  • Blackmail again; this time financial as well as emotional. How crap is that? I'll not be pushed into having the flu jab, and in fact this latest idea may well backfire on the government.

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  • what backhanded blackmail and not even subtle enough to go unperceived by nurses. It also grossly undermines their intelligence and personal choice.

    shocking behaviour from the DH and those supposed to be our leaders!

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  • what about the rest of the public, many of whom live with someone elderly, with chronic health problems, what a disgraceful way to try and bully anyone into some misguided guilt-trip.
    are they also going to insist that those at risk also have the flu jab or else they won't be admitted into hospital?
    this is a country that apparently prides itself on human rights and fairness to all.

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  • I will not have it at any price now.

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  • what about the individuals or your own family members who you could infect because you won't get off your high horses and have the jab?!?! It's only come to 'bullying tactics' because of the ignorance of staff NOT havingthe jab!!! Unless there is a cast iron medical reason for not having it it should be mandatory if you want to do the job! if not - work somewhere else! If people had been 'bullied' into MMR instead of listening to Wakefield then the lastest measles outbreak would probably not be happening!

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  • Anonymous | 11-Sep-2013 12:13 pm

    ignorance is not always the reason for non-vaccination. Unless there is a change in the law, it is a personal decision.

    everybody's arguments on all side must be respected.

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  • 'Anonymous | 11-Sep-2013 12:13' ... I really dont think this is about anybody being on a 'high horse'.

    People (yes nurses are still people!) should be allowed to make a choice and not be forced into a position where making said choice comes with emotional blackmail and financial penalty. Most nurses choose to have the flu jab as a matter of course to help reduce rates/ protect family friends & vulnerable patients - yet should be allowed the choice...simply put it is NOT ETHICAL to be dictated to and put in a 'YOU WILL' position however it's dressed up

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  • What complete load of tosh!
    This isn't giving people a choice to get vaccinated or not. Sounds like they're holding trusts to ransom, saying you've got to get 75% of your staff vaccinated so that the underfunded A&E departments can receive a little top up (after years of under resourcing). Or its a great ploy of not paying anything at all, as a good guess that there won't be enough staff getting vaccinated.

    Flu jab's are no guarantee of keeping people out of A&E over winter.
    Also does this mean people who don't work in the NHS or where there isn't an A&E won't have to worry?

    I like to see/hear chief execs, directors, senior managers and politicians all get their jabs first, then work a couple weeks as frontline staff would betwen christmas and new year, lead by example and put their money where their mouth is.

    Any trust that gets a part of this money, all good to them, but it sounds like some of the money that should have been rightfully allocated to them in the first place.

    We're more likely to get flu from looking after ill people, working with sick people, suffering on-going work-related stress and pressures, without enough support or resources, and worrying about the future for ourselves and our families, as our body clock's get wrecked and our immune systems are degraded.

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  • This could backfire on the government because it has incensed many nurses, who may well have had the jab if it wasn't for the heavy handed approach now taken.

    Also remember that having it doesn't guarantee immunity, and the figures for that are not good.

    As regards getting off my high horse, perhaps the person who posted at 12.13hrs would like to get off theirs!!

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  • Also, a colleague had the flu jab and a sore arm for a year afterwards as it wasn't administered in the right place.

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  • tinkerbell

    just another excuse to make a cutback and see departments struggle until the private sector take over. This is becoming less and less a democracy and more and more a dictatorship.

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  • Sneaky b------s aren't they, trying to hold us to ransome!

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  • any decision for any vaccination will rest with me.

    I had a friend who was on his way out to Philippines for his wedding accompanied by his bride, very elderly and handicapped Mum and brother with learning difficulties. He was taken ill on the plane which had to land and repatriate him. He was taken straight to intensive care and diagnosed with Guillaume-Barré Syndrome. His recovery was a very long, slow and painful process. The disease was most probably vaccination-related. Although rare, it is always a very serious risk.

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  • Anonymous | 11-Sep-2013 12:13 pm

    Has it not occurred to you that the funding is already required and should be made available where it is needed in any case? If you can't figure that out, perhaps you should work somewhere else. Ya think?

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  • I also heard of a paramedic who contracted transverse myelitis, which was attributed to the flu jab.

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  • Hunt is a moral vacuum who will do anything to make himself look big and tough in front of the media.

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  • The efficacy of the flu jab is not assured as the virus mutates year on year.
    As a sentient, autonomous being I have the absolute right to decide whether I have a vaccination or not. It is emotional blackmail for someone to suggest that we are being selfish if we don't have the inoculation.

    When parents refused the MMR vaccination, did the health services refuse to treat their children? Of course not.

    The question is should people with flu like symptoms present to A&E in the first place?

    Elderly and other 'at risk' patients are also eligible for the flu jab for free, so why aren't they considered selfish if they don't have the jab?

    From Wikipedia:
    A 2011 meta-study published in the journal The Lancet, "Efficacy and Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccines," analyzed 31 prior studies on the effectiveness of influenza vaccination trials conducted between 1967 and 2011. The analysis found that flu shots were efficacious 67 percent of the time; the populations that benefited the most were HIV-positive adults ages 18 to 55 (76 percent), healthy adults ages 18 to 46 (approximately 70 percent) and healthy children ages 6 to 24 months (66 percent).

    Osterholm, MT; Kelley, NS; Sommer, A; Belongia, EA (2012). "Efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines: A systematic review and meta-analysis". The Lancet Infectious Diseases 12 (1): 36–44. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(11)70295-X. PMID 22032844. Also discussed in "Efficacy and Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccines: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis"., retrieved February 2, 2012

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