Free flu jabs for care home workers
Commenting on NHS England’s decision to offer free flu vaccinations to care home workers, Professor Martin Green, chief executive of independent provider representative body Care England, said his organisation had long campaigned on the issue.
“In the past the independent sector has been overlooked and providers have had to foot the bill themselves which, in a climate of severe financial pressures, has been difficult,” said Prof. Green.
“Being ready for winter and offering extra capacity to the already stretched NHS is yet another area where the independent sector can help.”
In a circular from NHS England, Department of Health and Public Health England the new programme for vaccinating people at risk was unveiled. It highlighted the virulent strain of flu in Australia and New Zealand and echoed messages of needing to prepare front line health and social care staff.
The International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) has also praised the long-called for decision. Whilst NHS staff were already offered the vaccination for free, the Government recommended that social care workers were immunised but asked employers of social care workers to pay for the vaccine. The ILC-UK has long highlighted the need to fund the vaccine for social care workers, to protect the extremely vulnerable people under their care. The organisation said the flu epidemic in care homes in Wigan last winter, which led to thirty cases of flu, eight deaths, and Wigan Infirmary and the North West Ambulance Service facing additional pressures, was a case study of the toll that low uptake of flu vaccination among care home staff could have on residents and the NHS.
The ILC-UK is also urging the Government to ensure that homecare workers are also reimbursed for the immunisation, so that they can protect the people they care for from influenza this winter.
“Influenza is a serious illness which does kill,” said ILC-UK director David Sinclair.
“For years we have highlighted that it made little sense to offer NHS staff the vaccination for free, whilst asking employers of social care workers to pay for the jab, as their staff also care for the most vulnerable people in our society
“Protecting older people through offering the flu vaccine to social care workers free of charge is a common sense approach that will save lives this winter. However, we are urging the Government to go further and ensure that domiciliary care workers are reimbursed when they receive the vaccine on the high street so that they too can protect the people under their care.”