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Community nurse 'anger' over swine flu vaccinations


Already pressurised community nurses are having to vaccinate housebound patients against swine flu without any extra resources.

GPs are being paid up to £2.5m for swine flu vaccinations being carried out by community nurses for housebound people in “high risk” groups.

GP practices are being paid £5.25 for each patient on their list who is vaccinated, regardless of whether it is carried out by the practice. GPs’ records are used to identify those who are eligible.

A source said an average PCT had around 3,000 housebound people who would be vaccinated. That would mean around 450,000 patients nationally and £2.4m paid to GP practices.

NHS Newham director of emergency planning and resilience Wendy Thomas, a nurse manager, said it was right community nurses did the work because they were trusted and respected by those who needed vaccinating.

However, she said: “The [Department of Health] guidance is clear that community nurses are expected to vaccinate housebound patients but no additional funding has been made available to PCTs, while GPs get funded for those patients.

“That has been unfair and angered many nurses.” The work would take at least a month and significant staff time, she said.

Alison Browne, head of nursing and Barking and Dagenham Community Health Services, part of North East London Foundation Trust, said it had agreed to offer the swine flu vaccine to patients where it was visiting them as “part of their routine care” for no extra cost.

However, NHS Barking and Dagenham has also contracted the provider to vaccinate others such as people in nursing homes, which it has agreed extra payment for.

A DH spokeswoman said: “The work of community nurses is vital in protecting housebound patients from infection with swine flu.

“However, most NHS community nurses are employed on a monthly salary and will provide vaccination to housebound patients as part of their day to day tasks.

“If nurses’ hours increase for any reason it is for the local PCT to decide how they might be compensated.”


Readers' comments (7)

  • the latest news is that health visitors will be asked to vaccinate under fives because an agreement cannot be reached with gp's, but most health visitors are working under pressure due to recruitment freezes and lack of staff. I for one have not had to training to vaccinate recently and do not intend to work overtime (more often than not we do not get our time owing anyway) in order to fulfill this promise.

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  • To vaccinate those already on our caseload is fine, but we are having to pick up housebounds who are not known and care homes! It wouldn't be so bad if there were more time, but it all has to be done in such a rush! This situation is absolutly crazy, but just another example of how out of touch with the real world our leaders and planners are. To have this manic approach to vaccination and expecting already stretched community nurses to pick it up without any extra resources just beggars belief. Of course GP's get paid extra but PCT's don't give extra resources to it's employees....where's the logic. Ah, I forgot the DH think DN's work for GP's!!!!

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  • Community nurses are not the only ones who are hard done too, as a practice nurse my work load has doubled too, we dont get agenda for change and a 1% pay rise would be nice!

    This extra work has put a lot of extra pressure on all services but the people who get rewarded are never the nurses who do the hard graft. But if nurses dont immunise who will? The extra money for GPs was meant for more staff and more hours but they just seem to be pocketing it.

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  • As a practice nurse, I have vaccinated all patients that needed doing. So far, I have organised 5 clinics and been present at each one. One of the community nurses helped with one of the clinics we ran, and the GP and I visited the 4 housebound patients that needed doing. they will not be going to vaccinate the under 5's, as we already have started to organise the clinic for that too. I have not had any extra payment so far, but have managed to do these clinics during my working hours. The one thing that has suffered is keeping up with the chronic conditions register, but at least all the patients have been vaccinated who want them.

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  • I understand why community nurses are getting so fired up about this and it is not because they do not want to carry out this task...

    as a student comming from my community placement with the community nurses and having seen first hand them trying to organise how its going to happen, it was appaling. Management did not seem to know anything!!!about how the vaccine came or how it should be given. they didnt even no that it was not a pre mixed / filled syringe... and that in actual fact you have to mix the vials and then give it within 24 hours of it being mixed.

    While on placement it was suggested by a GP for a nurse to go to the surgery pick up a pre mixed syringe (mixed by the GP) and travel to a patients home to give the injection.

    Carry a loaded syringe in a car to a patients home, that has been pre mixed by someone else!... how many prtocols does that go against??? i have to state THIS DID NOT HAPPEN..... it just seems ridiculous that something was not set up months ago about how this was going to be done. rather than have Doctors, Nurses, Managers within the community reading from different hymn sheets.

    The community team i worked for had 5 nurses and 2 HCA's only 2 nurses work at any one shift and with varying numbers of patients on the case load any one day could range from each nurse seeing 5- 18 patients a day. they do not have the staffing levels to pyhsically go and do these patients because 1 nurse would have to have all the patients needed to be seen by a nurse and the other to have the 10 patients for each vial for the swine flu.

    if it had been organised earlier when the pandemic was made public and that the flu vaccine would be available it would have been easier. rather that passing the blame from one to another. It just seems to be being pushed to the community nursing team without any plan being set in place...

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  • This campaign has had, and will continue to have a considerable effect on all parts of the community nursing team - which includes school nurses, health visitors and community public health nurses. All are already stretched trying to provide the HPV vaccinations in schools alongside vaccinating their frontline colleagues against H1N1. No doubt we will also be providing H1N1 vaccinations in schools too. All this alongside their everyday workload. Community teams have plenty of time to do all that don't they?

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  • As a community staff nurse, we are expected by GP,s , managers and relatives of the housebound and who "think" they are housebound (because they dont want to get a bus or put their famlies out) to be administering the flu and H1N1 vaccine. we get no extra help to cope with an already heavy workload, no extra pay or able to take time-owing, and why? because it is expected of us, our good nature will one day be stretched too far, all this while the GP,s rake in the benefits, they have the money to employ more practice nurses, but why when they have free labour and be paid for it from the government, quids in !!

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