Nearly two fifths of doctors, nurses and other front-line hospital staff are not vaccinated against flu, new figures reveal.
NHS England has urged workers to get vaccinated to protect themselves and patients, pushing for “near universal” coverage.
But by the end of December, 1,249 front-line NHS workers at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust (WWL) had not had the jab, according to Public Health England (PHE).
Of the 3,414 doctors, nurses, clinical staff and support workers at the trust with direct patient contact, 2,165 were vaccinated between September and December. That’s an uptake rate of 63 per cent, slightly lower than the national average of 66 per cent. Last winter, NHS England praised trusts that achieved coverage of 90 per cent or above at the end of the season.
Bosses have now warned that staff refusing the vaccine could be banned from treating patients. As a result, trusts are now required to submit data on how many of their staff refuse the jab. WWL reported that 116 staff turned down the jab – making up almost 10 per cent of unvaccinated staff. The other staff may not have been offered the vaccination yet.
Coverage at the trust has declined since the same period in 2017-18, when 71 per cent of front-line staff were vaccinated. St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals was the only trust to hit 90 per cent coverage by the end of December.
Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the variation in uptake was “disturbing”.
He said: “I can see employers taking a firm stance with anyone who chooses not to be vaccinated and then contracts influenza. The NHS workforce crisis is well-described, and anything that could exacerbate that is to be avoided.”