How ironic that one in four student nurses who responded to our survey had difficulty in getting a flu jab.
The NHS is running a huge Flu Fighter campaign, calling for all staff to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their patients this winter, yet students on placement - and their patients - are being denied the same protection.
But it’s not just the short-term implications we should be concerned about here. The students’ situation could be a sign of worse things to come if the NHS fragments more - which looks like an odds-on certainty unless the Health Bill changes radically before it becomes law.
Students who experienced difficulty in getting the flu jab were caught in a Catch 22-style situation, in which their clinical placement trusts told them to go to their GP for the jab, whilst their GPs sent them back to the trusts. Some finally opted to pay for themselves.
Like so much in life, it all came down to money. The trust occupational health departments would not vaccinate the students because they weren’t employees, while the GP practices said the students did not fit the criteria that would gain them payment from the PCT.
If the health service can’t organise free flu jabs for people coming into close contact with its patients and in its facilities, what will happen when a range of private providers come into the mix and budgetary responsibility for particular patients is unclear? Will they be shuttled back and forth between providers who deny responsibility for their care? I only hope that someone will actually provide the care they need while the accounts departments argue over who pays the bill.