NHS bosses get tough on doc­tors who refuse f lu jab

Daily Mail - - News - By Sophie Bor­land Health Ed­i­tor s.bor­land@dai­ly­mail.co.uk

‘Duty to pro­tect pa­tients’

MEDICS who refuse to get a flu jab this win­ter will have to give a valid rea­son to NHS bosses.

Doc­tors and nurses have been told they have a ‘duty’ to have the vac­cine, amid con­cerns that this year’s flu sea­son will be one of the worst on record.

The guide­lines have been is­sued by Pro­fes­sor Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS’s med­i­cal di­rec­tor.

Ex­perts are wor­ried that a par­tic­u­larly ag­gres­sive strain of the virus, called H3N2, is on its way from the south­ern hemi­sphere.

Aus­tralia and New Zealand have just emerged from one of their worst flu out­breaks in 50 years.

From this win­ter, man­agers at NHS trusts will be obliged to ask any front­line staff who hasn’t been vac­ci­nated why they re­fused.

They will com­pile the rea­sons and sub­mit them to NHS Eng­land, in the hope of im­prov­ing rates.

In an open let­ter to staff, Pro­fes­sor Keogh said he was dis­ap­pointed that a third of NHS work­ers failed to get the jab last year, de­spite be­ing at high risk of spread­ing the virus to pa­tients.

‘Health­care pro­fes­sion­als have a duty to pro­tect their pa­tients and col­leagues,’ he added.

At one NHS trust – South Lon­don and Maud­s­ley – only 21 per cent of front­line work­ers both­ered to get vac­ci­nated.

Across Eng­land some 62.3 per cent of NHS staff re­ceived the jab, and this was the high­est on record.

Pro­fes­sor Keogh said: ‘This is a timely re­minder to em­ploy­ers and staff that we all have a pro­fes­sional re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect our­selves, and by do­ing so bet­ter pro­tect our pa­tients and re­duc­ing the pres­sure on ser­vices.’

He also warned of a ‘dis­ap­point­ing vari­a­tion’ in vac­ci­na­tion rates be­tween hos­pi­tals.

The jab is of­fered free to all NHS front­line staff as well as the over 65s, chil­dren aged two to nine, preg­nant women and those with a long-term ill­ness.

Dame Sally Davies, the chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer, said: ‘The harsh re­al­ity is that flu can kill and the best way to pro­tect your­self is to get the jab.

‘With more peo­ple el­i­gi­ble than ever be­fore and the vac­cine avail­able in more lo­ca­tions, peo­ple should pro­tect them­selves and those around them from flu.’

The warn­ing came as Jeremy Cor­byn re­vealed yes­ter­day that he has not had the flu jab.

The Labour leader, 68, said it was good for older peo­ple to be of­fered the vac­cine but added that it was a mat­ter of in­di­vid­ual choice.

No 10 said Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, 61, has had the jab and would en­cour­age ev­ery­one el­i­gi­ble to take up the of­fer.

Speak­ing after meet­ing older peo­ple at a com­mu­nity cen­tre in Ship­ley, West York­shire, Mr Cor­byn said: ‘There is a dan­ger of a very nasty strain of flu com­ing in, there­fore older peo­ple tak­ing the flu vac­cine is a good thing.’

But when he was asked if he has had the flu jab, he said he had not. He said: ‘I’ve said if peo­ple wish to have a flu jab they should, if they think it’s go­ing to help them, yes, they should do it.

‘I think it’s a mat­ter of in­di­vid­ual choice be­cause clearly we have to keep our­selves healthy not just for our own well­be­ing but for the well­be­ing of oth­ers around us.’

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