As few as one in seven hospital workers in the West Midlands have had the swine flu jab – raising fears that wards could be brought to a standstill if virus rates soar.
The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Northfield has only 15 per cent of staff protected against flu, even though they mainly work with the elderly – the most at-risk of dying from flu.
Edgbaston’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the main regional cancer centre dealing with high volumes of vulnerable patients whose weakened immune system cannot fight the virus, has seen only 17 per cent of medical staff get a jab.
Birmingham Women’s Hospital bosses have only vaccinated 20 per cent of the workforce – which includes only one in every ten doctors.
This is despite pregnant women and newborn babies being on the H1N1 virus danger list.
The Government is keen to ensure NHS workers receive the flu vaccine to ensure hospitals have enough staff to maintain services in an epidemic, but to also reduce the virus spreading and protect patients.
Lindsey Webb, nursing director at the Royal Orthopaedic, said: “The Trust is continuing to offer all staff the opportunity to receive a flu vaccine. Due to the specialist nature of our work, the Trust has not admitted or treated any patients with swine flu.”
A Queen Elizabeth Birmingham Hospital spokesman said: “The Trust did not set a target and vaccination is voluntary. Sessions were taken to as many areas as possible to encourage staff to take up the offer.”
Maria McLeod, Birmingham Women’s Hospital spokeswoman, said: “The Trust proactively encourages all clinical staff to receive flu vaccinations.
“The numbers of staff receiving the flu vaccine equates to 20 per cent of the workforce. Of this number, 11 per cent were doctors and 23 per cent were nurses and midwives. Ultimately it is a personal choice for individuals and not a statutory or mandatory requirement.”
NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson has expressed disappointment at the low proportion of NHS staff taking up the flu vaccine as NHS rates of staff sickness showed an increase on last year.
National data showed 366,180 staff days were lost to flu-like illness during December, a 50 per cent rise on 2009.
Figures contrast starkly between hospitals. Birmingham Children’s Hospital has ensured 99 per cent of staff have been vaccinated.
Worcestershire Hospitals Trust has given nearly half of all workers the jab with more still taking place and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust reached 42 per cent of staff vaccinated with a proactive approach.
PERCENTAGE OF HOSPITAL STAFF VACCINATED AGAINST FLU
Royal Orthopaedic Hospital 15%
Queen Elizabeth Hospital 17%
Birmingham Women’s Hospital 20%
Dudley Russells Hall 23%
Walsall Manor Hospital 24%
Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospitals 37%
Birmingham City and Sandwell Hospitals 42%
Redditch’s Alexandra and Worcester Royal Hospitals 47%
Birmingham Children’s Hospital 99%