Only a third of NHS staff have had flu jabs, as health bosses threaten to take workers off frontline duties if they carry on putting patients at risk
- Health staff who do not get vaccinated are at a risk of infecting their patients
- Only 46.3 per cent of staff across country had been vaccinated as of October 31
- In September the NHS warned its workers they were expected to get the jab
Only a third of NHS staff have had their flu jabs in some hospitals, posing a risk to patients.
Health bosses are aiming to vaccinate all workers this flu season and those who refuse face being taken off frontline duties.
But unions say some are too busy to get the jab, while others simply don’t like needles.
The Camden and Islington Foundation Trust in north London said only 33 per cent of staff had so far been vaccinated.
With only a third of NHS staff having had the flu jab, health bosses are aiming to vaccinate all workers this flu season and those who refuse face being taken off frontline duties. (Stock image)
At the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, just 31 per cent had been given the jab.
Meanwhile, just 28.7 per cent were vaccinated at the Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust.
The uptake was slightly higher at the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust at 36 per cent, rising to 42 per cent at the Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust.
The latest figures from Public Health England show that 46.3 per cent of staff across the country had been vaccinated as of October 31.
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This was only 0.3 per cent higher than last year despite a sustained push from NHS bosses to improve uptake.
The flu season usually begins this month and healthcare staff who aren’t vaccinated are at risk of infecting their patients, even before symptoms kick in.
They also put themselves out of action at an extremely busy time for the NHS and the virus typically lasts between one and two weeks.
In September, NHS Improvement, the hospitals regulator, warned workers they were expected to get the jab and could be taken off frontline duties if they refused.
Figures from Public Health England show that 46.3 per cent of staff across the country had been vaccinated as of October 31
Back in January the NHS’s former medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, called for a serious debate on making the vaccine compulsory for staff.
He said: ‘Flu is a double whammy for the NHS, increasing the number of patients and putting staff out of action.’
A spokesman for Unison, the union representing healthcare workers, said some employees were too busy to travel to other areas of the hospital to get their flu jab or didn’t like needles.
Sara Gorton, Unison’s head of health, said: ‘There are many reasons why NHS staff might decide the jab isn’t for them, including genuine medical ones.
‘Making it compulsory will mean that hospitals and health centres risk wasting time and resources in arguments over whether it’s right or even legal. Encouraging health workers is the approach most likely to reap results.’
Professor Paul Cosford, medical director at Public Health England, said: ‘Healthcare professionals have a responsibility to be vaccinated to protect themselves and their patients.
‘This is why, this year, NHS England has asked all healthcare workers to have the vaccine and if they wish to opt out, to state the reason why.
‘Frontline health and social care workers are at more risk of catching flu because of their contact with patients.
They are also more likely to pass it on to their patients, many of whom will be at higher risk of serious complications of flu, even if they are not symptomatic.’
Thousands of pensioners were initially unable to get the flu jab this season due to shortages at GP practices.
The issues have been largely resolved and older people were yesterday urged to get vaccinated. However, the timing is much later on in the season than usual.
A spokesman for NHS England said: ‘It’s good to see that more NHS staff have so far got their flu jab compared to this time last year, which was itself a record high for staff uptake.
‘Flu can cause serious illness as well as putting extra pressure on the NHS, so all hospitals have been asked to get their staff vaccinated.’
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