As we edge closer to winter there are fears that the Flu Jab may not protect the elderly, with the NHS reportedly being “more scared than we have ever been” about the risks of a heavy flu season.
The Flu Jab has also been in other news this week, with NHS leaders urging nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals to have the vaccination in order to protect their patients.
Elsewhere, the number of homeless elderly people has surged by 100% in seven years. It’s being reported that people over the age of 60 are now twice as likely to register with local councils as homeless.
Flu Jab may not protect the elderly
Concerns have been raised by the NHS that the Flu Jab may not protect the elderly this winter, with the risks of a heavy flu season being extremely high. There are fears that hospitals will be inundated with cases during the winter months and may be unable to cope.
An official evaluation, seen by The Telegraph, revealed that last year’s Flu Jab had zero effectiveness among those aged over 65, with year’s programme pushing further on trying to protect those who come into contact with pensioners, in case the vaccination fails.
One of the reasons why health officials are so concerned is that Australia and New Zealand have both just experienced their worst flu season for almost two decades. Patterns in these countries are commonly repeated in the UK.
Sir Malcolm Grant, chairman of NHS England said in press conference:
“We face winter better prepared than we have ever been, but more scared than we have ever been. We have the strong likelihood of hospitals being inundated with people suffering flu.”
This year’s vaccine is similar to that used in last year’s Flu Jab, which failed to effectively counter strains like those which have recently proved virulent in Australia.
NHS workers urged to have the Flu Jab
The Flu Jab has been spoken about a lot this week. Alongside fears regarding the elderly, NHS leaders are also urging nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers to have the Flu Jab in order to protect their patients.
NHS workers are offered the Flu Jab for free, with more than one million care home workers also being offered the vaccine this winter. NHS officials are requesting employees to report how many people don’t have the Flu Jab, with only 30% of staff in some hospitals having the vaccine.
Letters will be sent out to healthcare workers across the country, along with all 243 NHS trusts, to help reduce the risk of them passing on the flu virus to vulnerable and older patients – especially those who suffer from asthma, pneumonia and emphysema.
The Guardian quotes the letter to NHS trusts as saying:
“We require each NHS organisation to ensure that each and every eligible member of staff is personally offered the flu vaccine, and then either signs the consent form or states if they decline to do so.”
Those who decline the Flu Jab will have to tell the NHS trust that employs them why, and it will have to record their reasons.
Homeless elderly people figure rise
We close this week’s news round-up with some shocking and upsetting figures surrounding the number of homeless elderly people. New figures show that the number of elderly people becoming homeless in England has surged by 100% in seven years.
In fact, those aged over 60 are twice as likely to register with their local councils as homeless as they were seven years ago, with the number rising from 1210 in 2009, to 2420 in 2016. Other figures released include:
– Among the homeless elderly population in 2016, more than half (61%) were over the age of 65.
– 21% of homeless elderly people were over the age of 75.
– Current trends suggest that the scale of elderly homelessness is set to double by 2025 – according to The Local Government Association (LGA)
The LGA also said that older homeless people are presenting to councils with “a range of complex health condition” due to mental health issues, alcohol abuse and gambling problems.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, told The Independent:
“It’s astonishing that our housing crisis has got so bad that a record number of elderly people are turning up at their councils needing help finding somewhere to live. Sadly, we’re seeing this in our own services too, with older people regularly needing our advice and support when they become homeless.”
Overall homelessness has increased in the same period, rising by 42 per cent from 41,790 to 59,260.