Hospital Dr News

New evidence shows flu vaccine reduces NHS staff sickness and saves money

Improvements in NHS flu vaccination programmes can reduce NHS staff sickness, reducing the strain on NHS services during the winter months.

That’s the key finding of research from Imperial College, published in the RCP’s journal Clinical Medicine, which analysed data on flu vaccination rates and staff sickness across the NHS for four flu seasons from 2011. This included 223 healthcare trusts and approximately 800,000 staff.

The researchers found a clear relationship between vaccination rates and the rate of sickness absence – a 10% increase in the vaccination rate was associated with a 10% fall in sickness absence.

Importantly, there was only a difference in sickness absence rates during the flu season (October to March) and not at other times of the year, suggesting that this is a specific effect.

Winter puts a strain on the NHS as more people become unwell, placing a greater demand on services. During a typical flu season about a quarter of healthcare staff will contract flu. About half of these will not have major symptoms but they can still spread infections.

For this reason, flu vaccination is recommended for NHS staff to reduce risk to the individual, their vulnerable patients and their families.

Uptake by NHS staff has been relatively low, with only about half taking it up. This is partly because many healthcare workers are unclear about how effective it is, are concerned about possible side effects or because it is not convenient for them to get it, the research claims.

Bringing sickness absence rates down would save substantial amounts of money both by reducing cancelled activity and reducing the need to employ locum staff.

Dr Nick Hopkinson, one of the study authors, said: “These data provide a good argument for individual healthcare workers to get vaccinated against flu to protect themselves their patients and their colleagues. Hospitals and other NHS organisations also need to ensure that vaccination is easily available.”

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation