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Letters urge nurses to get and promote flu jab

Nurses have received written reminders of the importance of encouraging all their patients to get a flu vaccination.

Nurses are being reminded of the importance of getting their patients – and themselves – vaccinated against the flu.


Staff are being urged to get vaccinated ahead of winter. Picture: Justin Slee

NHS England has written to nurses, doctors and healthcare assistants reminding them of their ‘professional duty’ to ensure their patients are protected this winter.

Staff are also urged to get themselves vaccinated, which, for the first time this year, will include one million care home workers – at an estimated cost to the health service of £10 million.

Ensuring preparation

The letters are part of a series of measures called Stay Well This Winter, designed to boost the uptake of the vaccine and ensure the NHS is fully prepared for the expected winter pressures.

Welcoming the programme, a RCN spokesperson said: ‘We encourage all nursing staff to have the vaccine. It plays an important part in infection control and preventing sickness absence.’

New statistics from NHS England reveal around 2.9 million bed days were lost to flu and pneumonia last year, up 279,842 from the previous year (11% increase).

This represents a 32% increase – or 694,582 more bed days – than five years ago.

Admissions from care homes also jumped by 16% last year to around 29,000.

The letters warn flu can often be present without symptoms, meaning healthcare workers who feel fit and healthy can unwittingly infect vulnerable patients.

Directions

Trusts are also being directed to ensure the vaccines are readily available to staff and to record the reasons why those who opt out choose to do so.

The NHS is looking to avoid similar increased demand on services as experienced by hospitals in Australia and New Zealand this year.

The letters have been signed by chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings, as well as NHS Improvement’s executive director of nursing Ruth May and NHS England national medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.


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