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PCTs to determine priorities for staff swine flu vaccination

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Primary care trusts have been left to decide which frontline staff they should immunise against swine flu first, risking local variation and dispute.

The Department of Health last week said staff with “regular clinical contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care” would receive the vaccine as soon as it is available - probably in late September or early October.

However, primary care trusts will have to prioritise different staff groups themselves.

The DH has said it will not issue further guidance but some PCTs are unclear about whether they will be given more detail. Others said they were trying to overcome the problem by talking to other organisations.

NHS South of Tyne and Wear emergency planning manager Michael Walls said North East PCTs were producing a detailed prioritisation list together.

He said: “We are planning to have the same approach across organisations so we don’t have that differential. Otherwise we might take one view and the PCT next door take a different view.”

A spokesperson from NHS Cumbria said it would “follow national guidance… if further priorities are named” among frontline staff.

NHS Leicester City public health consultant Tim Davies said his PCT was talking to other health and social care providers and the Health Protection Agency about how to prioritise.

An online survey by Nursing Times suggests a third of frontline nurses will not opt to be immunised even when offered.

Thirty per cent of 1,500 survey respondents - 91 per cent of whom describe themselves as frontline nurses - said they would not. Thirty-seven per cent said yes and 33 per cent were undecided. Of those who said no, 60 per cent cited their concerns about the safety of the vaccine as their main reason.

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