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Healthcare staff who refuse the influenza vaccine could be ‘redeployed’

NHS Improvement has a plan to ensure ‘near universal’ uptake of the seasonal influenza vaccine.

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Healthcare staff who refuse the seasonal influenza vaccine could be ‘redeployed’ to work in other areas.

Hospital staff who work with ‘high-risk’ patients and refuse to have the seasonal influenza vaccine could be moved to work in other areas this winter to protect patient safety.

According to NHS Improvement; “staff who decide not to be vaccinated to explain the reason, so that the organisation can use the information to support greater compliance”.

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Adding; “In hospital departments where patients have lower immunity and are most at risk of flu, it may be appropriate for those who choose not to be vaccinated to be redeployed to other areas where this promotes the overall safety of patients.”

Staff who refuse the vaccine will be asked to complete an ‘opt-out’ form asking for their reasoning. The regulator does not specify what would happen in cases where staff are unable to receive the vaccine due to medical reasons.

Ensuring ‘near universal’ uptake of the vaccine.

NHS England and NHS Improvement has a plan to ensure ‘near universal’ uptake of the seasonal influenza vaccine by front-line staff. This may not be limited to just Doctors and Nurses but all members of staff who direct contact with those deemed ‘high-risk’.

Last winter only 68.7% of frontline NHS staff received the vaccine. But this figure demonstrates an upward trend in uptake. The seasonal influenza vaccine will also be offered to staff working in social care who have direct contact with members of the public.

In November 2016, NHS England published the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) scheme for the next two financial years which sees NHS trust in England financially rewarded ‘an increased flu vaccination uptake rate’.

‘A perfect storm of flu and stomach bugs’.

NHS Improvement’s review of last winter found that the NHS faced “a perfect storm of flu, stomach bugs and unusually severe weather” which lead to the Government suspending all non-urgent care and temporarily removing the financial penalties associated with the 4-hour A&E target.

Record numbers of patients waited longer for care because hospitals, despite unprecedented planning, were unable to cope.

Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, said; “Demand for treatment is rising relentlessly, staff vacancies are at record levels and after a difficult summer staff have been working at full tilt without a break”.

Redeployment of staff.

The Royal College of Nursing admits that while it is important to ensure staff are offered the vaccine, the redeployment of staff will carry its own risks.

Tom Sandford, Director of the Royal College of Nursing in England, said: “All healthcare staff should ideally get the flu vaccine. Some boast uptake levels of more than 90% without recourse to measures such as redeployment. We believe increasing vaccination coverage among staff is predominantly about education and availability. Redeploying staff carries its own risks, and we need to understand how employers will manage this.”

Prof Jane Cummings, NHS England’s Chief Nursing Officer, said; “By getting vaccinated against flu, healthcare workers can protect themselves, their families, colleagues and patients, making sure we have a healthy workforce and helping to reduce the pressure on services over winter”.

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Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.

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Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.

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Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.

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Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”

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With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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