The main headline this week’s news round-up concerns the flu vaccine. According to Public Health England, last winter’s flu vaccine was not as effective in elderly people, but worked perfectly in children.
Elsewhere, there’s worrying news coming from Age UK and the strain on elderly fiances. According to a new survey, one in four elderly people are now struggling financially as they fight to keep on top of their bills, keep their homes warm and eat.
There’s also an update from the NHS, with the England branch set to pay recruitment agencies around £100m as part of a huge international drive to boost the number of GPs.
Flu Vaccine more effective in children
According to Public Health England (PHE), last winter’s flu vaccine was much more effective in children than those aged over 65. Their results show that the flu vaccine reduced the risk of flu by 66% in children, an increase of 8% compared to the previous year.
These results were the best since 2013, with the flu vaccine reducing the risk of flu by around 40% in adults aged between 18 and 64-years-old. The same cannot be said for those over 65 however, mainly because the vaccine did not protect the elderly against the H3 flu strain which struck last winter.
“As people age, their immune systems are often weaker and therefore their bodies may not respond as well to a vaccine as younger people’s bodies.” – PHE
Every year, the World Health Organization picks the three strains of flu most likely to be circulating. A flu vaccine normally works in 50 out of every 100 cases. Going forward there is a possibilty of high-dose and adjuvanted vaccines to help increase the body’s immune response to the flu vaccine.
One in Four elderly people struggling financially
A new survey has revealed that nearly three million pensioners, one in four, are having money problems. It is reported that hundreds of thousands are unable to pay regular bills and are struggling to keep their homes warm.
The survey, by Age UK, explains that more than £3.5bn worth of benefits for pensioners is going unclaimed each year. Suggestions shared from the survey included:
- 572,600 people are unable to keep their homes adequately warm.
- 286,300 people are unable to pay regular bills.
- 708,800 people are unable to keep their homes damp free.
- 945,100 people would be unable to replace a cooker if it broke.
- 1,299,600 people have no access to a car and cannot afford a taxi.
Latest figures from the Government show that 800,000 pensioners are living in “material deprivation” as they unable to afford the basics. Last year the number of pensioners living below the poverty line rose to 1.9 million.
In response to these findings, a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said:
“By introducing the triple lock and protecting the poorest through Pension Credit, we have reduced pensioner poverty close to historically low levels, lifting the incomes of millions of older people. Other support, such as winter fuel payments, should give older people the assurance that they can turn up their heating when they need to, without the fear of an unaffordable bill.” – Department for Work and Pensions
NHS launches £100m drive to recruit foreign GPs
A new international drive to boost the number of GPs will see NHS England pay recruitment agencies £100m. Contracts have been put out to tender that could see half of the extra 5,000 GPs promised by 2020 brought in from abroad.
As part of the scheme, support staff, nurses and therapists will also be targeted. This drive comes as the NHS continues to struggle with the training of home-grown members of staff. Dr Arvind Madan from NHS England, said:
“The NHS has a proud history of ethically employing international medical professionals, with one in five GPs currently coming form overseas. This scheme will deliver new recruits to help improve services for patients and reduce some of the pressure on hard-working GPs across the country.”
Out of the 5000 extra doctors expected by 2020, it is expected that the new contracts will lead to 3000 of them coming from outside the UK.