Nurses and other healthcare staff have been urged to ensure they are immunised against swine flu when vaccines become available later this month.
The NHS has ordered 132 million doses of vaccine, which will be distributed to PCTs for vaccination of the general public.
Guidance from the NHS Confederation, published last week, has warned that staff who are likely to come into contact with the H1N1 virus should make sure they are vaccinated.
It said nursing directors and other managers should make every effort to ensure this happens.
The guidance states: ‘We know that uptake of vaccines among NHS staff tends to be fairly low. Local leadership will have a critical role to play to ensure a high uptake – particularly in acute trusts where uptake can be among the lowest, but where the need may actually be greatest.’
Trusts have also been advised to ‘stress-test’ pandemic plans to ensure they can continue providing high-quality care to flu and non-flu patients – during a potential second sustained flu outbreak of up to five months.
Additionally, Nursing Times understands that the NHS is currently developing a measurement tool as part of proposals to move nurses and other staff to areas most affected by the pandemic.
The tool will measure pressure on the NHS and be based on GP and hospital attendance and admission related to swine flu.
Speaking at a briefing on swine flu last week, NHS national director for flu resilience Ian Dalton said the tool would help identify where staff were needed and where they could be spared.
He said, despite high GP attendances in London and the West Midlands, movement of staff had so far been unnecessary. ‘The local NHS has done a very good job. We haven’t got to the level of escalation where we would have to do any more,’ he said.
However, at the beginning of this month, health secretary Andy Burnham warned that the UK could see over 100,000 new cases of swine flu per day by the end of August.
|Pandemic flu: the stats|
|As of last week there were 7,644 laboratory confirmed cases in the UK – 6,162 cases in England, 1,377 cases in Scotland, 60 cases in Wales and 45 in Northern Ireland|
|GP consultation rates for flu-like illness across England are currently 51.9 per 100,000 (the threshold level for normal seasonal flu activity is 30 per 100,000)|
|GP consultation rates for flu-like illness across Scotland are currently 23.6 per 100,000|
|GP consultation rates for flu-like illness across Wales are currently 9.3 per 100,000|
|There have been 14 deaths linked to the virus in the UK so far – in all cases there have been underlying conditions|
Will you get vaccinated against swine flu, if possible?