Lack of frontline health professionals could hold back the immunisation programmes announced by the government today (Tuesday 30 April), Unite, the country’s largest union, has warned.
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, was commenting on the vaccination programmes to protect against flu, shingles and diarrhoea, including about 650,000 children, aged two, who will be offered a nasal flu vaccine from September.
Unite lead professional officer Obi Amadi said: “While it is excellent that the government is finally doing the right thing, we are concerned that - with the current heavy job losses in the NHS and tight budgets - there will not be enough frontline health professionals to carry out these vital programmes.
“This announcement needs to be accompanied by a comprehensive public health programme to convince the public of their importance. We have seen what happened when the MMR vaccine rates dropped – there was a serious measles outbreak in south Wales.
“However, NHS managers have a responsibility to ensure that their workforces are up-to-date with the latest information and are ready to answer difficult questions from often concerned patients.
“We fully support well-coordinated and thought-out public health initiatives and we will assist our members to enable them to participate fully in these programmes.”
Last week, Unite called for GPs across the UK to target the parents of children who they think have not received the MMR immunisations. The union said it was important that 95 per cent of the population are immunised to create the so-called ‘herd immunity’.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.