30 / 10 / 2015 4.12pm
Senior health ministers and NHS Employers have hosted a successful summit for residential care providers to encourage closer collaboration in the fight against flu.
There were more than 16,000 excess deaths last winter in England and Wales. While cold weather contributed to this, flu was a major factor in many of these deaths. The strain of influenza virus that circulated the most widely last winter was one that hits the elderly causing many to become seriously ill and all too many to die.
Ministers called on care providers to do all they can to make sure that their staff and residents are protected against the flu virus. Providers were encouraged to consider offering to pay for their staff to be vaccinated in order to protect them and prevent the spread of the virus to vulnerable patients, other care staff and to their own family.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said:
“Flu Kills – and it is predominantly older people and those with long term conditions who fall prey to this highly infectious disease.
“At Tuesday’s summit we discussed how vital it is that we work together, with the care sector, to make sure that their hard working staff and the people they care for are protected this winter.”
Ruth Warden, Assistant Director for Development and Employment, NHS Employers said:
“NHS Employers is looking forward to extending the flu fighter campaign to include residential care homes. We know that flu is a virus which can kill, so it is important that health and care staff have the flu vaccination to protect themselves, patients, clients and residents. We recognise that the care sector has different challenges but we hope that by working together we can reduce the impact of flu and keep people well this winter.”
The meeting marks the launch of a new NHS Employers initiative, to work with the care sector to make the flu vaccine available for all staff who work with patients in residential care settings in England. The NHS Employers’ project started in October 2015 and will be rolled out until March 2016.
The summit provided the opportunity for care home leaders to give Ministers an overview of current practices, challenges and how they can be supported to overcome barriers to ensure maximum uptake of the flu vaccine. The session included discussion on how care homes can work more closely with GPs and pharmacists, while also improving the way that data on vaccination uptake rates is collected.