Promoting partnership working in the NHS

Partnership Working on the Seasonal Flu Campaign – Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust

Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust recognised it needed a radical re-think in order to meet the seasonal flu campaign target of vaccinating 75 per cent of its staff in 2013/14 on the back of less than half its workforce getting the jab the previous year.

As the principal healthcare provider to 258,000 people across Southport, Formby and West Lancashire – and home to the regional Spinal Injuries Centre - the trust employs some 3,300 staff across 20 sites, including two disctrict general hospitals.

To improve uptake of the seasonal flu jab among its front-line staff by over 50 per cent (or 26 percentage points), the trust knew it would need to work in partnership with the full range of professional staff groups.

Advice was sought from HR and trade union representatives in order to identify key stakeholders within the organisation who would sit on a new multidisciplinary 'flu committee' and to ensure inclusivity.

Staff side and management worked closely to clarify roles and responsibilities of committee members and in setting realistic expectations.

The director of nursing accepted the leadership role for the campaign, providing continuous support throughout.

Having identified a number of key staff groups or individuals who would be needed to support the campaign, the flu committee contacted them individually to explain the rationale and benefits of the campaign. This generated genuine passion for the vision to protect colleagues, patients and family members.

During planning meetings, union representatives identified areas and timeslots that were missing from the original campaign timetable, for example, the large amount of staff working twilight hours - this group historically missed out on flu vaccinations or found it very difficult to attend the main clinics.

As a result, and working closely with the facilities team, they were able to provide a twilight clinic for these staff for the first time ever. Staff side also identified meetings where high numbers of clinical staff would be attending so these were added to the timetable and vaccinations were offered there and then.

The communications team promoted the vaccination sessions on a weekly basis and they posted flu mythbusters in the trust’s weekly newsletter to employees. They were pivotal in ensuring that the flu campaign was constantly at the forefront of trust priorities, highlighted in corporate meetings and advertised widely.

The pharmacy team adjusted its opening times to coincide with vaccination clinics and, with the help of the learning and development team, staff training events were targeted too.

Some staff members continued to have reservations about receiving the vaccine but factual information was provided by the trust's health and wellbeing team, reinforcing the benefits of the vaccination programme and being supportive in their approach at the clinics. 

To overcome the logistical difficulties of providing clinics for community staff across 20 sites, they engaged the support of the community matrons and the pharmacy team to identify suitable clinics in their localities. For those staff who were unable to attend these clinics they carried out some peer-to-peer vaccination sessions, where appropriate.

As a direct result of this campaign, the percentage of frontline staff who had the flu vaccination rose from 49 per cent in 2012/13 to just over 80 per cent in 2013/14 – an increase of over 31 percentage points.

The success of this campaign is directly related to the partnership approach adopted to manage the 2013/14 flu vaccination programme and neighbouring trusts have invited Southport and Ormskirk to share their story and support them in improving their own campaigns.

Linda Lewis, health and wellbeing manager at the trust, said: “We are confident that we can apply this process to other campaigns and develop future partnerships with not only trust employees but also other NHS trusts and agencies, ultimately for the benefit of both patients and staff.”

For more information please contact:

Linda Lewis: linda.lewis8@nhs.net

See also...