I thought I might not be around for my family!" A moving video on the eve of 'Flu 2018/19 campaign

When  Quest nurse Katie Berry  came home from hospital after 'flu last year she wore a mask to cuddle her daughter.

After a horrific experience which took her to the brink of death she was so scared of passing it on she was taking no chances.

Katie, told CHFT Weekly:  "The photo of me hugging my little girl is the day I got discharged from hospital, and wearing my mask to try and prevent her getting the 'flu. I wanted people to see the bigger picture of what 'flu actually does to people.

"I couldn’t stand up from that photo being taken and needed my husband’s help to get back into bed."

Now fully recovered she's the star of a thank-you video she hopes will persuade colleagues to have this year's jab. See it here.See the thank you message from Katie here.  

She recalls: "It was a very dark time and I was terrified both Hannah and Jack would end up poorly, I would never have forgiven myself!

"I was trying to act as ‘normal’ as possible around them, and giving them cuddles when they needed them was heart breaking as I was terrified that little cuddle could make them dangerously ill.  

"Hannah had the vaccine, but Jack was too young so he needed Tami flu, which again I felt so guilty giving him as it made him feel unwell. I felt I had put my family at risk through no fault of my own, and I’m still traumatised by those awful four weeks".

She adds: " When the time comes for us to start vaccinating, please have yours as quickly as possible so we can be better prepared for winter this year.

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This week all NHS Trusts were written to in advance of this year's campaign by NHS England. Here's what they wrote:

All NHS frontline staff expected to get flu vaccine as part of winter planning

NHS leaders have today announced that all frontline staff will be expected to get a flu vaccination to help protect patients as part of a comprehensive plan for winter.

To help reduce the impact of flu ahead of the winter months, NHS trusts across the country have been asked to achieve a ‘near universal’ uptake from their frontline staff of this year’s flu jab.

The call comes after health service in England came under significant additional pressure last winter as a result of a ‘perfect storm’ of extreme weather conditions, the worst flu season in a decade and high levels of norovirus.

A third of the increase in emergency admissions were flu related while the virus also took staff out of action.

The new ambition for 100% vaccination comes as the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that £145m has been allocated to support NHS trusts implement plans to maintain services during the winter flu season

Trusts have been advised today (Friday 7 September) by NHS England and NHS Improvement that staff who decide not to be vaccinated should be asked to explain the reason, in order that the organisation can use the information to support greater compliance. In hospital departments where patients have lower immunity and are most at risk of flu, it may be appropriate for stay who choose not to be vaccinated to redeployed to other areas where this promotes the overall safety of patients.

Last winter, 68.7% of front line health care workers received the vaccination, with some trusts having vaccinated over 90% of their staff – the highest rate on record.

For another year, social care workers will receive the flu vaccination free of charge. Independent providers, such as GPs, dental and optometry practices, and community pharmacists, are expected to offer the vaccination to their frontline staff.

 

Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer at NHS England, said:

“NHS staff did a remarkable job last winter as the health service faced a perfect storm of flu, stomach bugs and unusually severe weather.

“By getting vaccinated against flu, health care 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.” 

The announcement on universal uptake follows confirmation in February that a newly-licenced flu jab, the adjuvanted trivalent vaccine, will be available to all people aged 65 and over this year, offering the strongest possible protection against flu in this vulnerable group.

Also in the plans – set out in a letter to system leaders – hospitals have been reminded of the national ambition, announced in June, to free up 4,000 beds by the end of December 2018, particularly by reducing the number of ‘long-stay’ patients.

Nearly 350,000 patients spend more than three weeks in a hospital each year – this is around a fifth of beds. Some patients need to be there for medical reasons, but many do not. Many of these patients are older people who may deteriorate if they stay in hospital longer than necessary.

 

Dr Kathy McLean, Executive Medical Director and Chief Operating Officer at NHS Improvement said:

“Last year, over 55,000 people were seen in A&E and admitted or discharged within four hours every day over winter. That’s over 6.7 million people in total. This is thanks to the efforts and dedication of hard working staff.

“As we plan for this coming winter, efforts must continue to ensure emergency services and beds are prioritised for the sickest patients and that more people are enabled to recover at home. No one should stay in hospital any longer than they need to.”

Other elements of the plan include:

  • More patients with minor illnesses and injuries will be referred to services other than A&E, including through primary care. To support this, 9 million additional GP appointments will be made available from October, including over weekends and evenings. Last winter, nearly 1.3m additional GP and nurse appointments were provided.
  • Community providers will free up capacity across their services so that they can support the expected increased demand on hospitals and allow more patients to recover safely at home.
  • NHS trusts will ensure that hospitals make greater use of flexible working,  e-rostering systems, and planning annual leave effectively to maximise the number of staff available during periods of peak demand.