Frontline staff at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust have one of best records in country for getting flu jab

Public Health England statistics show that 83.3% of 3,494 frontline workers at the trust were vaccinated against flu by the end of December
Public Health England statistics show that 83.3% of 3,494 frontline workers at the trust were vaccinated against flu by the end of December

Frontline staff at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals Trust have one of the country's best records for getting flu jabs to protect themselves and their patients, new figures reveal.


But with the number of workers being vaccinated varying dramatically across England, the Society for Acute Medicine says the NHS has enough to worry about without staff getting preventable illnesses.

Public Health England statistics show that 83.3% of 3,494 frontline workers at the trust were vaccinated against flu by the end of December.

It was ​one of the highest uptake rates in England, and well above the national average of 68.5%.

Doctors, nurses, clinical staff and support workers involved in direct patient care are encouraged to have the jab.

Trusts have financial incentives for staff uptake, receiving full payment if at least 80% have it, and a decreasing amount down to 60% coverage, below which they get nothing.

The target is measured between September and February, and the payment varies depending on the size of the trust’s contract.

The proportion of staff who had the vaccine by the end of December differed widely across the 235 trusts that submitted figures.

​The East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust recorded 93.9% of staff having the vaccination, while the uptake rate was just 36.2% at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, described the disparity as “worrying”.

“The NHS has enough to worry about without further issues with staff being unwell when it may have been prevented,” he added.

“We know there is a financial incentive for NHS trusts to get their staff vaccinated but I would hope the health need and protection it offers would be more than enough to persuade people.”

Across England, the 68.5% uptake rate at the end of December was better than at the same point a year earlier, when it stood at 65.8%.

Dr Doug Brown, chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, said the flu vaccine is the best protection we have against a virus that can lead to serious illness in vulnerable groups.

He added. “It is extremely important to continue to increase seasonal flu vaccine uptake among frontline healthcare workers to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and causing serious illness in at-risk groups.”

An NHS spokesman said: “Flu can cause serious illness and adds significant pressure to the health services, which is why NHS staff have worked hard to achieve a record level of uptake for the vaccine so far this year, with almost 50,000 more frontline staff choosing to protect themselves, their patients and colleagues from flu.”