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Question for Department of Health

UIN 119596, tabled on 14 December 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what contingency arrangements are in place to ensure that the NHS is prepared for an influenza epidemic.

Answered on

20 December 2017

We know the National Health Service is facing increased pressure this winter and that is why we planned earlier this year than ever before. The NHS has robust plans in place to cope with winter supported by £435 million and £1 billion of funding for the social care system this year to be spent on meeting adult social care needs, supporting the social care market and reducing pressure on the NHS this year.

Influenza vaccination remains the best protection against flu, and are being offered to everyone over the age of 65 years, those who are at particular risk to flu, and pregnant women, at the earliest opportunity. Influenza vaccination should also be offered to all frontline healthcare workers. NHS England has made funding available to support the vaccination of care workers in the independent and voluntary social care sector.

This year all children between 2-8 years of age are being offered the nasal spray vaccine to help protect them and their families against influenza.

Every trust has developed plans for this coming winter. These have been quality assured by the named NHS England and NHS Improvement Regional Directors responsible in that area. The operational pressures escalation levels framework is used by local NHS organisations throughout the year to help monitor operational pressures across local systems. In addition NHS England uses a range of data sources throughout winter to help monitor performance and ensure appropriate responses to specific pressures.