Training Primary Care - NHS - GPs - Aïssata...

Am I going to make myself unpopular?

I don’t want to.  I really don’t.  I don’t want to say anything that’s going to upset you.  Fundamentally, I think we are on the same page.

There will be times when we disagree.   Times when you think I have it wrong and you say so.  That’s fine.  That’s what our daily conversation is all about.

I have to admit I’m baffled.  I don’t get why we are putting so much effort and energy into something that is such a stone-bonker, obvious, must-do.

There are people running about, campaigns, bribes, incentives and the latest is a letter signed by; 

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis, chief allied health professions officer Suzanne Rastrick, chief midwifery officer Professor Jaqueline Dunkley-Bent and chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Keith Ridge. 

With the greatest of deference to their eminences, I expect most of you will be saying, who?

Ruth May is involved… I expect you’ll have heard of her?

Cajoling, imploring, reasoning.  An open letter, to all front line health workers.  I’m not quite sure how the night-staff, on ward eight of the Someplace Hospital in Netherwhapping get to read it?  Email?  Who knows.

The subject… the flu jab.

About 30% of the front line refuse to have it.  Or, we can’t find them to give it.  Something is wrong if about 90,000 people dodge it, don’t know about it, or refuse.

My guess is, some will have good grounds for refusing.  Allergic to eggs used to be a reason.  Not any more, they do an ‘egg-free’ jab, these days.

I have seen for myself the efforts that Trusts go to, to jab their staff.  Chief executives and nurses are seen, sleeves rolled up, smiling as the are stabbed.  Medical directors, sit grim-faced, as they are given the treatment. I’ve done it myself.

The campaigns must cost a fortune, distract from the pressures of the front-line.  There is so much more urgent stuff to do than chase staff across the car-park, with a flu-jab.

The best Trusts manage a vaccine rate of +75%… but it’ still woeful for a health service!

As Ruth’s letter points out;

‘… flu can have serious and even fatal consequences, especially for the most vulnerable patients, such as young children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Healthcare workers are at an increased risk of contracting flu, but because more than half of infections bring mild or no symptoms, it is possible for us to have and pass on, the virus to patients without us being aware.’


‘… Flu-related staff sickness absence can also significantly affect your ability to deliver the services safely patients need and value. 

In fact, research suggests that a 10% increase in NHS staff vaccination reduces healthcare worker sickness absence by about 10%.’

This is such obvious sense.  Such a no-brainer…

Stop palavering about.  Here’s the unpopular bit.  Make it free and obligatory for every front-line worker.

No jab, no job.  Make it part of the contract of employment.  Refuse a vaccine without a medical or conscientious reason and get reassigned away from front-line work.

Many Trusts do have obligatory immunisation requirements that go unchallenged; Hep B, MMR, Varicella, Tetanus, Polio, Diphtheria and some do require staff to be Flu-jabbed.

The NHS has enough problems without valuable patient-facing people, off with the flu, or unwittingly spreading what is, for some, a silent killer.

NHS is about life, vitality and living.  Not red noses, aching joints and sweaty.

If you really need persuading, be part of ‘Get a Jab – Give-a-Jab‘… 

… created by staff in the NHS and other health organisations. The campaign encourages staff to take up a free flu vaccine and in turn, NHS trusts will make a donation to Unicef UK for the equivalent number of vaccines for children around the world.

If you don’t care about yourself, care about the people you work with, your family, the people you look after and people like… Aïssata.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley

Contact Roy – please use this e-address roy.lilley@nhsmanagers.net

Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Roy Lilley.