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Revealed: Trusts with highest and lowest flu jab coverage for frontline staff

  • 4 Comments

Staff flu vaccination levels range from 93% at one trust to just 18.4% at another, reveals analysis by Nursing Times of the latest immunisation data.

The 10 trusts with the worst staff vaccination levels for winter 2016-17 were all in the mental health sector – reflecting a historical trend – with the exception of one major London hospital trust and an ambulance service.

In contrast, the 10 trusts with the highest levels were all in the hospital sector – again, similar to previous years – though the top spot went to a specialist provider.

Trusts with the lowest vaccination levels told Nursing Times that some of the poor performance could be explained by staff getting flu jabs in primary care and not being recorded in their figures.

However, they said they were striving to boost take-up, including running “jab cafés” for staff and deploying “roaming vaccinators”.

Overall, the figures published in a report by Public Health England show vaccination rates are at their highest levels with almost 62% of NHS staff now protected against the virus, having been vaccinated this winter.

But the data also reveals wide variations in take-up. Some trusts achieved vaccination levels of more than 80% and higher, while only around a fifth of frontline staff have had the flu jab at others.

One of the lowest vaccination rates was at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, with just 18.4% of frontline staff recorded as taking up the free flu jab this winter – down from 30.7% last year.

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According to the statistics, the trust employs 4,613 healthcare workers involved in direct patient care. Of those just 850 were recorded as being vaccinated between 1 September and 31 December.

The trust said it had tried a new method to boost uptake this year by giving each member of staff a voucher to use at a pharmacy convenient for them.

But a trust spokeswoman acknowledged that the initiative had not proved as successful as had been hoped.

She noted that the organisation had since re-introduced “peer vaccination” – where designated members of staff can vaccinate colleagues at any time.

Meanwhile, West London Mental Health NHS Trust was recorded as having a vaccination rate of 21.3% in winter 2016-17.

The trust said the figure did not take into account staff members who had the flu jab at their GP or pharmacy, rather than through the trust.

“We consider vaccinating frontline staff to be an important preventative measure and, although the decision to be vaccinated is an individual choice, we put significant work into promoting the flu vaccine amongst staff,” said a trust spokesman.

“As we prepare for the next flu season, we will continue to look for new ways to improve uptake so we can keep both staff and patients well,” he added.

The trust said staff could get the flu jab via occupational health clinics – with 27 such clinics held last year – and it continued to offer walk-in sessions for staff, both at occupational health and at its medical centres.

Other steps included training extra peer vaccinators. Meanwhile, occupational health staff had attended inductions to offer the vaccine to new staff.

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust

Exclusive: Best and worst staff flu jab rates revealed

Clare Hawkins, chief nurse at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, which was listed as the second best community provider for its uptake of flu vaccine among frontline staff

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust had a reported vaccination rate of 21.4% – just 642 of 3,000 frontline staff providing direct care. However, it represented an increase on 10.1% the previous winter.

The trust said the NHS flu vaccination campaign was launched across the organisation in October.

“So far this year we have seen an increase in the number of staff receiving their flu vaccination – and whilst uptake is relatively low at 21% this is an increase of more than 10% on last year’s results,” said a trust spokeswoman.

“Historically there is low uptake of the flu vaccination among mental health trusts which is why we have introduced new ways that staff can receive their jab including training nurse colleagues to provide peer vaccinations,” she said. “Next year we plan to start earlier and train more vaccinators.

“We also need to encourage staff to let us know when they’ve had the vaccine through their GP or community pharmacist, as this is not always recorded,” she said.

“With this in mind, we will continue to actively promote the jab to unvaccinated staff, so that we can provide the best possible protection for all our patients and staff,” she added.

Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust had a recorded take up of 21.8% – up from 18.5% the previous winter.

Liz Lightbown, executive director of nursing, professions and care standards, said the organisation was “very disappointed” with the vaccination rate.

Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust

Exclusive: Best and worst staff flu jab rates revealed

Liz Lightbown

“However, we do expect a small increase in the final total, as our influenza vaccination campaign ran until the end of January 2017,” she added. “We are also awaiting the figure on the numbers of staff who received the flu vaccination from their local GP or pharmacy or elsewhere.”

She said the trust had undertaken a range of activities to promote the vaccination campaign, including a survey of staff to try to identify the root causes of low uptake.

“We had a 10-day countdown to the flu campaign on the staff intranet, which featured myth busting information,” said Ms Lightbown. “We launched the campaign by vaccinating members of the board of directors and sending a special invitation letter to all staff via email. Posters were displayed on all trust sites and we launched a flu newsletter.”

In addition, there were 44 vaccination clinics across different trust sites, equating to 114.15 hours of clinic time – promoted heavily via staff bulletins, messages in pay slips and pop-up reminders on trust computers.

Other measures included sending round a “roaming vaccinator” who spent a week visiting various trust sites to offer the vaccination and running “jab cafés” – drop-in sessions where staff could get their vaccination plus a cup of tea and some cake.

“The [trust’s] flu planning steering group meets regularly throughout the year and planning is already underway for next winter’s campaign,” said Ms Lightbown. “We are also liaising with local NHS trusts so we may learn from others how we can work to increase our vaccination rate.”

About a quarter – 24.7% - of frontline staff at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust were recorded by Public Health England as having been vaccinated.

“Our latest figures to the end of January show that uptake is now more than 30%, thanks to a rigorous awareness and action plan that will run for the remainder of the winter,” said a trust spokesman.

“The safety of both our staff and patients is imperative and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure a higher take-up rate of the vaccine both this year and in coming flu seasons,” he added.

Trusts with some of the highest vaccination rates included Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, where 93% – or 2,152 out of 2,315 frontline healthcare workers – were vaccinated.

Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust had a rate of 83.4% and several other trusts also had uptake of more than 80%. These trusts included East Lancashire Hospitals, Colchester Hospital, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, Poole Hospital, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals, and Warrington and Halton Hospitals.­­­­­­

When looked at by region, our analysis revealed a North-South divide, with the top of the country vaccinating around two-thirds of staff, compared to just over half in the bottom.

Trusts in the North of England recorded the highest flu vaccination levels in 2016-17. At 66.8%, this marked an improvement of more than 10% on the 54.8% rate in 2015-16.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Exclusive: Best and worst staff flu jab rates revealed

Staff being vaccinated at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which reached its target of vaccinating 75% of its frontline staff against flu

Meanwhile, the immunisation rate was 65.1% for trusts in the Midlands and East, nearly 20% higher than the 44.2% achieved the previous winter.

Organisations in the South and London also recorded significant regional increases in staff vaccination levels on 2015-16, when they were just 44.5% and 42.6%, respectively. However, the rates were still behind the other two regions, at 57.1% and 53.1%, during 2016-17.

The lowest take-up rate was recorded for the Surrey and Sussex area team at 49.3%, while the highest was for the Merseyside area team at 76.2%.

A spokesman for NHS Employers highlighted that the overall flu vaccination rate was rising, but acknowledged that some factors were known to affect staff immunisation rates.

“Some trusts have many staff out in the community or otherwise less able to reach a vaccination conveniently,” he said. “That is why so much effort is put into not only highlighting the vaccinations to staff but to making them available in places where staff can reach them.”

“We also know that many myths still exist, although we don’t have indications about where that may be more the case,” he said.

He added that NHS Employers, which oversees the annual Flu Fighter campaign, had identified factors over the years that could help boost vaccination rates locally.

Such innovations included tailoring information, appointing “champions”, using peer vaccinators and offering small incentives.

Top 10 trusts ranked by highest flu vaccination uptake

  • Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust – 93%
  • Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 86.6%
  • Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – 83.4%
  • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust – 82.1%
  • Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust – 81.2%
  • Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust – 81.1%
  • St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – 81.1%
  • Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 80.6%
  • Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – 80.6%
  • University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust – 79.9%

Worst 10 trusts ranked by highest flu vaccination uptake

  • Humber NHS Foundation Trust – 32.1%
  • Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust – 31.1%
  • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust – 30.9%
  • Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust – 30.3%
  • Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust – 30%
  • Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust – 25.3%
  • Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust – 21.8%
  • South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust – 21.4%
  • West London Mental Health NHS Trust – 21.3%
  • Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust –18.4%
  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • Carol C. Burns

    I have my flu jab every year to help with not spreading the virus to my patients. The first year I had a bad reaction to it but happy to say the last 2 have not been as bad as the first although I still react to the injection. However, I tend to get very few colds which I think it is due to my yearly jab!

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  • Doremouse

    I have had the flu vaccine ever since it became available. This wasnt only to protect me but patients and others, especially pregnant woman.
    I had flu, real flu, when I was 8-9 weeks pregnant. My son was born with birth defects which, because of the defects was associated with my having flu. He died aged 5 weeks.
    Most get over flu, however pregnant woman cant protect her baby in any other way but by having the flu jab, or remaining in total isolation to avoid it.
    It isnt worth the risk!

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  • I think it is really important to remember healthcare students when planning your flu campaign. If students start out knowing this available to them to protect themselves, their families, patients, carers and the wider population; they may continue this throughout their career.

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  • We had 100% uptake for the flu jab in my team, we work with children with disabilities and everyone realised they were doing this not only for them but for the children in our care and their own families. I have not had flu at all this year, or a heavy cold. I HATE injections and had to be cornered by a colleague to have it lol, but it really was worth it.
    It would be interesting to see the results from NHS Wales, Scotland and Ireland too, not just England.

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