Healthcare staff working in high-risk clinical areas who refuse to get the influenza vaccine this winter could be redeployed to other services, the NHS has warned.
In a recent letter to Chief Executives of NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts, the NHS said its “ambition is for 100 per cent of healthcare workers with direct patient contact to be vaccinated”.
The letter, signed by over a dozen senior NHS leaders, said the NHS wants to ensure the greatest protection for patients with specific immune-suppressed conditions, where the outcome of contracting flu may be most harmful. At a minimum these higher-risk departments include haematology, oncology, bone marrow transplant, neonatal intensive care and special care baby units.
In these higher-risk areas, staff should confirm to their superiors whether or not they have been vaccinated, the letter says.
“This information should be held locally so that trusts can take appropriate steps to maintain the overall safety of the service, including considering changing the deployment of staffing within clinical environments if that is compatible with maintaining the safe operation of the service.”
Where staff are offered the vaccine and decline, they should be asked to anonymously mark their reason for doing so by completing a form, with this information collated to contribute to the development of future vaccination programmes, the letter says.
Responding to the NHS directive, Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "We absolutely support this drive to encourage NHS staff to have their flu jab this winter, and we would urge all members of the primary care team, including those who work in residential and care homes, to be vaccinated early in the season, for their own health as well as their patients."