More than 2,000 frontline staff at King George and Queen’s hospitals do not have flu jab
- Credit: Archant
More than 2,000 doctors, nurses and other frontline staff at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) have not had a flu jab to protect themselves and their patients, new figures reveal.
The Society for Acute Medicine says it is concerning that many NHS staff across England who deal with patients have not been vaccinated.
BHRUT released its figures in January for frontline staff which show a vaccination rate of 60 per cent (3,300 out of 5,518). That is a 6pc increase from the end of December.
David Amos, BHRUT's director of people and organisation development, said: "We continue to actively encourage our staff to be vaccinated because we know it protects our patients, especially those who are most vulnerable.
"We have 'flu champions' who visit our wards and departments to administer the jab and flu clinics and so far, six out of 10 of our frontline staff have been vaccinated, which is an improvement on this time last year."
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The 60pc vaccination rate for frontline staff at BHRUT is lower than the national average of 68.5pc.
Doctors, nurses, clinical staff and support workers involved in direct patient care are encouraged to have the jab and figures for BHRUT's medical staff working in emergency medicine and care of the elderly are much higher.
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Mr Amos added: "We are particularly pleased that 83pc of our medical staff working in emergency medicine and care of the elderly have been vaccinated as these are some of our more vulnerable patients."
The proportion of staff who had the vaccine by the end of December differed widely across the 235 trusts that submitted figures.
The East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust recorded 93.9pc of staff having the vaccination, while the uptake rate was just 36.2pc at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, described the disparity as "worrying".
"The NHS has enough to worry about without further issues with staff being unwell when it may have been prevented," he added.
"We know there is a financial incentive for NHS trusts to get their staff vaccinated but I would hope the health need and protection it offers would be more than enough to persuade people."
Across England, the 68.5pc uptake rate at the end of December was better than at the same point a year earlier, when it stood at 65.8pc.
Dr Doug Brown, chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, said the flu vaccine is the best protection we have against a virus that can lead to serious illness in vulnerable groups.
He added: "It is extremely important to continue to increase seasonal flu vaccine uptake among frontline healthcare workers to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and causing serious illness in at-risk groups."
An NHS spokesman said: "Flu can cause serious illness and adds significant pressure to the health services, which is why NHS staff have worked hard to achieve a record level of uptake for the vaccine so far this year, with almost 50,000 more frontline staff choosing to protect themselves, their patients and colleagues from flu."