Focus on winter preparations continues at our hospitals

Front-line staff at Northumbria Healthcare are having flu jabs.
Front-line staff at Northumbria Healthcare are having flu jabs.

More than half of front-line staff at Northumbria Healthcare have already had their flu jab, as the NHS trust aims to vaccinate all of them this winter.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, the trust’s executive medical director, said that there are 6,641 front-line staff and 3,387 have been vaccinated in the first eight weeks of the programme with another nine weeks to go.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, executive medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

“My target of 100 per cent is within our grasp, if not our gift,” he added. “The Special Care Baby Unit (at Cramlington) is the first to reach 100 per cent, which is a testament to their commitment to patient care.”

However, there is a national target of 75 per cent which is supported by income (known as a Cquin indicator) and is worth around £236,000 to the trust.

Failure to achieve 75 per cent uptake among front-line staff will lead to a loss of this income on a sliding scale. To achieve any payment, at least half of front-line healthcare workers must be vaccinated – Northumbria has already hit this level.

The meeting also heard the latest update on the trust’s plans for winter, which have been signed off by the board.

The trust’s chief operating officer, Helen Ray, said that recent dips in performance through September – such as bed occupancy, nursing gaps and length of stay at the hospital in Cramlington – had been noted and incorporated into the planning.

The aim is to limit bed occupancy to a maximum of 85 per cent and on the day of the board meeting last Thursday, the trust was sitting at 86.2 per cent.

Other risks for which mitigation actions are taking place include staff shortages, ambulance flows, domiciliary care provision and thresholds for patients transfers.

The previously-reported reset days, when there will be a planned reduction in activity, will take place on December 12 and 13 and then for two full weeks in January.

Dr Rushmer said: “I feel we have a better plan than we have had before, although there’s still uncertainty about what winter is going to bring us.”

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service