All practice staff should get vaccinated against influenza, both for their own and their patient’s health, the RCGP has said.
It comes as the NHS is asking all frontline staff to get their free flu jab, to achieve the highest possible level of vaccine coverage this winter and bulletproof the NHS for the coming winter.
RCGP chair professor Helen Stokes-Lampard 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.’
She said that ‘flu puts an incredible amount of pressure on general practice and the wider NHS every year’.
Last year, GP consultations for flu-like symptoms went up over the holiday period and increased by 42% in the week ending 14 January, according to Public Health England.
Preventing staff sickness absence
Service delivery is incredibly affected by flu-related staff sickness, according to a letter sent to NHS trust chief executives last week.
Just a 10% increase in vaccination ‘may be associated with as much as a 10% fall in sickness absence’, the letter suggested.
Professor Stokes-Lampard said: ’Getting vaccinated not only protects yourself, but your colleagues and patients.’
She added that evidence shows that unvaccinated frontline NHS staff may sometimes carry the flu virus and be asymptomatic, which means they might inadvertently pass it on to vulnerable patients.
Kay Keane, practice business manager at the Alvanley Family Practice in Stockport said she and her staff all had the vaccine.
She said: ‘We encourage all our staff to have the vaccine and then let their own practices know it’s been administered here. So that’s all admin, clerical, GP’s nurses and attached staff.’