NHS leaders are asking chief executives of NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts to aim for a ‘100% staff vaccination uptake’ this year.
In a letter sent by senior leaders in the NHS on Friday (7 September), trust bosses have been urged to provide the flu jab to all NHS staff, with the ambition to have all those in direct patient contact to be vaccinated.
The letter states that staff need to receive their flu jab as a 10% increase in vaccination for the workforce could cut sickness absence by 10%.
It also confirmed NHS England’s decision to provide free vaccines to social care workers this year.
Possible redeployment of staff
The letter also suggested that when staff working in direct contact with patients in ‘higher-risk’ clinical environments refuse to get their free flu jab, trusts should consider ‘changing the deployment of staffing within clinical environments if that is compatible with maintaining the safe operation of the service’.
The decision should be considered as evidence shows that more effective actions need to be taken to limit the exposure of patients to unvaccinated staff in ‘higher-risk department, which include haematology, oncology, bone marrow transplant, neonatal intensive care and special care baby units’.
Forms and procedures
Where staff refuse to receive the flu jab, they will be asked to justify that on an anonymous form, which will be kept on record to help the ‘development of future vaccination programmes’, the letter said.
NHS trust leaders have also been requested to complete a ‘best practice management checklist for healthcare worker vaccination’ and to release a self-assessment on these measures by the end of 2018.
Each trust is also being asked to continue to use ‘ImmForm’ to report monthly uptake of the vaccine and to report for the first time how many of those offered the vaccine have opted-out, which will be published monthly by Public Health England on its website.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: ‘The NHS can help itself by maximising the number of staff flu vaccinations and we welcome the plans to support this.’
Increasing health workers vaccinations levels is only one of the priorities in the NHS 2018/19 winter plan, also published by NHS Improvement on 7 September.
NHS trusts will also need to make better use of flexible working, e-rostering systems, and planning annual leave effectively to ensure a bigger number of staff available during peak times.
This comes as the Government recently released £145m to help the health service cope with winter pressures, to equip staff with ‘the resources they need so people receive the care they deserve’.