20 / 12 / 2013 Midnight
New government figures show that a record proportion of NHS staff are now being vaccinated against flu – and at a rate 19 per cent higher than last year.
It is a significant contribution to this year’s NHS winter planning, helping keep the workforce healthy and protect vulnerable patients.
NHS Employers, which runs the annual national NHS flu fighter campaign, says the figures result from excellent engagement between staff and managers, who together are running creative local projects throughout the country.
The figures from Public Health England show that 453,013 frontline staff (48.6 per cent) were vaccinated against flu between 1 September and 30 November 2013. This is a 19 per cent greater proportion than the 412,599 staff (40.8 per cent) vaccinated in the same period last year.
It already exceeds the final total at the end of last winter, when 45.6 per cent were vaccinated compared to the current running total of 48.6 per cent. Eight NHS trusts have already achieved 75 per cent or more, 57 NHS trusts have already achieved 60 per cent or more and 151 trusts (out of all 272) have already exceeded their final totals from last winter.
Dean Royles, Chief Executive of the NHS employers organisation, said:
“There has been a lot of focus on winter planning and the NHS is vaccinating 5,000 frontline staff a day. These year-on-year increases result from the commitment of staff and their managers to find time in our busiest period to get vaccinated. But they know it’s worth it to avoid getting sick - especially when they’re in contact with vulnerable patients.
“I wish more people had the chance to see the amazing work that staff and managers are doing together to drive up vaccination levels. Despite all the changes in the NHS this year, there’s a huge energy on this issue. This is a real partnership effort and it's fantastic to see the support of trade unions continuing to champion the importance of vaccination. There has been some incredible creativity in engaging staff and the effective use of social media to drive change. People want to see innovation in the NHS and they can see it in the flu fighter campaign, in droves.”
Christina McAnea, Head of Health at UNISON and Staff Side chair, said:
"UNISON and the other health trade unions are very happy to support this campaign and encourage NHS staff to sign up for the flu vaccination and indeed to become flu fighter champions.
"This has been a tough year for staff in the NHS, with many difficult challenges, yet their commitment to patients is higher than ever.
"The rise in take up of the flu vaccine is evidence that staff want to remain healthy to provide care for patients at a time when demands on the NHS are at their highest. This campaign is successful and it’s about managers, staff and their trade unions working closely together."
View the figures
Flu vaccinations are a cost-effective and life-saving way to protect staff, their families and their patients. The flu season was mild last year but the number of patients with flu who required intensive treatment still increased and, tragically, 107 of those patients (11.3 per cent) in the UK died from it (1).
GP surgeries, trusts and other organisations have received flu fighter’s wide range of support material and access to expert advice. Staff flu vaccinations are not mandatory so raising awareness is crucial for combating the virus, which can be fatal to vulnerable patients and disruptive to NHS staff and services.
NHS Employers has continued to use social media to increase awareness of the campaign this year, successfully encouraging trusts to embed #flufighter in flu conversations across the Twitter network. The social media presence of the campaign continues to encourage feedback from employers and staff about the flu vaccination. More information is available at www.nhsemployers.org/flu and also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/nhsflufighter
) and Twitter (@NHSflufighter). This year flu fighter has also expanded to support healthcare providers and their staff in Wales.
Notes to Editors
(1) ‘Surveillance of influenza and other respiratory viruses, including novel respiratory viruses, in the United Kingdom. Winter 2012/13
Flu fighter has expanded to include Wales in 2013/14.