Milton Keynes Hospital is in line for a financial boost for its A&E department this winter – but could miss out next year unless it can persuade the majority of staff to have flu jabs.
The Government has set aside £500m for the next two years to help struggling A&E departments deal with added pressure during the winter months.
The 53 NHS Trusts in England most at risk this year have been told they will share £235m and the Milton Keynes health economy has been awarded £2.7m, with £1.4m of that going to the hospital and the rest divided amongst other local healthcare providers, including the Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group.
But in order to qualify for funding in 2014/15, the hospital will need to convince 75 per cent of frontline staff to take up its offer of a flu vaccination this winter and next.
Last winter just 40.2 per cent of the 2,341 Milton Keynes Hospital staff involved with direct patient care were given the flu jab. Nationally 45.6 per cent of frontline staff were vaccinated, with the figure fewer than one in five in some hospitals.
Last month the Citizen reported that the hospital’s A&E department had experienced its busiest week ever in July as the heatwave led to an average daily intake of 240 patients, compared to around 200 on an average summer day.
The Citizen, in partnership with city MPs Iain Stewart and Mark Lancaster, launched a campaign earlier this year to highlight the hospital’s need for a new A&E department and begin the process of lobbying Government for the £24m needed for it.
The hospital is still waiting to learn what significant future funding could be on the cards, but for now the £2.7m promised by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will go some way to alleviating the potential pressure of a busy winter period.
The hospital will begin its vaccination programme later this month and will encourage as many staff as possible to take the flu jab through internal communications and drop-in sessions over the coming weeks.