NHS staff roll up their sleeves to protect vulnerable people

Flu main imageStaff across Pennine Care are rolling up their sleeves to protect vulnerable patients from the effects of flu.

Flu will leave most people feeling ill and exhausted. However, for vulnerable people, such as children, the elderly and those with long-term health conditions or a weakened immune system, it can lead to severe infections, complications and even death.

Frontline staff are four times more likely than the general public to catch flu – and their absence from work puts additional pressure on services and staff that are already stretched during the busy winter months.

To reduce the impact of flu, NHS organisations across the country are required to vaccinate 75 per cent of their staff against flu.  For Pennine Care, this equates to 5,258 staff, which includes bank and temporary staff.

To reach this target, dedicated ‘flu champs’ and nurses in each borough have planned more than one hundred vaccination sessions right across the Pennine Care footprint.  They are pulling out all the stops, on top of their ‘day job’ to ensure the sessions are as convenient as possible for staff.

The campaign launched on 13 October and will run until January/February 2015.  To date over 1,000 members of staff have had their vaccine.

Last year Pennine Care achieved an uptake of 59 per cent – which was higher than the national average of 55 per cent.  The Trust is keen to further increase the uptake this year and exceed the national target.

Pennine Care’s top bosses are throwing their full support behind the campaign.  Chief Executive Michael McCourt, Acting Executive Director of Nursing Ian Trodden, Medical Director Henry Ticehurst and Chairman John Schofield have all had their flu vaccine and are encouraging staff across the Trust to follow their example.

Michael McCourt said:  “I would personally like to thank everyone who has already had their flu jab for doing their bit to protect vulnerable service users from flu.
“As a former frontline health professional, and because I’m frequently out and about, I have my flu jab every year.  I’ve always felt a personal responsibility for protecting the health of patients, colleagues and my family and continue to take this responsibility seriously.”

Ian Trodden, who is also the executive lead for the flu campaign, said:  “We are absolutely committed to protecting our service users and staff against the effects of flu.

“We know that our staff are busy and can struggle to find the time to attend a vaccination session.  To address this, we have taken on board staff feedback from last year’s campaign and made many improvements to make it as easy as possible for them to have their flu jab.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to publically thank our flu champs and immunisation nurses, who are doing an excellent job of planning and delivering flu sessions right across the Pennine Care footprint. 

John Schofield added:  “While we are nationally required to achieve a 75 per cent uptake to, it’s not about simply clocking up numbers.  It’s about each and every member of staff being confident that we have done our bit to protect the 1.3 million service users we are responsible for."

Every year a range of unhelpful and inaccurate myths about the flu vaccine are circulated, which mean some staff are reluctant to have the vaccine. 

To tackle this and ensure Pennine Care’s staff are equipped with accurate information, Henry Ticehurst is using his medical expertise to pen some words of advice and encouragement.  Look out for his guest blog on Michael McCourt’s blog page: http://penninecareceo.blogspot.co.uk/

The flu vaccination is available free of charge to eligible members of the public, including those with a long term condition such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease; aged 65 and over and pregnant women.

Carers and those living in nursing or residential homes are also offered thevaccine, together with healthy children aged two to four years old.  People who are eligible should contact their GP practice to make an appointment.