The NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has warned that 2017 is expected to be a severe flu season for the UK, following the recent outbreak in Australia and New Zealand.
In a speech at the Health and Care Innovation Expo conference, he explained:
“The signs from the Southern Hemisphere winter have been that flu has been much higher and it has been the variety that puts the most pressure on the old people’s services like care homes.
“If that reproduces itself here over this coming winter that is going to mean much more pressure on GP services and hospitals.”
Australia and New Zealand have had their worst flu season for a number of years with hospitals feeling the strain. Australia recorded over 100,000 cases, more than 2.5 times the normal number.
There are concerns that the NHS will struggle to cope if the same trend hits here – which it very often does. Waiting times and bed shortages seen over the summer would be likely to get worse, especially as flu poses a particular threat to vulnerable groups.
2017 Flu Jab
The good news is that this year’s flu jab is thought to be quite effective against the H3N2 strain which hit Australia and New Zealand.
Paul Cosford, medical director at Public Health England said:
“The strains of flu circulating in Australia this past winter have led to a significant increase in cases but it’s too early to know which will be the dominant strains of flu to circulate in England.
“Each year the World Health Organisation reviews the circulating strains of flu and recommends which flu strains should go in the vaccine. It’s really important that as many eligible people as possible get their jab which is the best way to protect everyone from flu.”
For 2017/18, most injected flu vaccines in the UK will protect against three types of flu virus:
- A/H1N1 – the strain of flu that caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009
- A/H3N2 – a strain of flu that mainly affects the elderly and people with risk factors like a long term health condition. In 2017/18 the vaccine will contain an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 H3N2-like virus
- Influenza B – a strain of flu that particularly affects children. In 2017/18 the vaccine will contain B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus
The flu jab is highly recommended for those groups deemed to be ‘at risk’ due to age or other medical conditions and these groups can receive it free of charge under the NHS:
- adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu
- children aged six months to two years at risk of flu
- children aged 203
- children in reception – year 4
- adults aged 65 and over
- pregnant women
- carers, healthcare workers and social care workers
- those in a long-stay home/care facility
However, there are many other patients who choose to pay privately for the flu jab in order to avoid the debilitating illness.
Flu Jabs in London
Private flu vaccination is available at The Smart Clinics based in Brompton Cross (North London) and Wandsworth (South London). Their private clinics offer generous appointment times and extended opening hours to suit busy schedules.
On behalf of The Smart Clinics, a spokesperson explained:
“Flu can be a very nasty disease, which can leave patients feeling run-down and below par for weeks after. The flu jab is a fast, safe and effective means of ensuring protection from the inconvenience and unpleasantness caused by the virus.
“We highly recommend the flu jab for all patients, not just those deemed at risk.”
The Smart Clinics
The Smart Clinics is best known for its unique membership based private GP service with access to a friendly team of experienced doctors, which entitles individuals, families and corporate members to unlimited GP access for a monthly fee. Private dentistry is also available as an optional extra.
However, non-members are also welcome to access The Smart Clinics’ GPs, nurses and healthcare professionals on a ‘pay as you go’ basis.
For more information contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7052 0070.