17 Nov 2011 02:35 PM
Winterwatch keeps public up to date

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 17 November 2011

29 per cent of healthcare workers vaccinated so far this year

A nationwide information service to keep everyone safe and well this winter was launched today by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

The online hub will provide regular updates about the increased demand on the NHS during the cold winter months and offer practical advice on keeping well when the weather is very cold.

It is the second year that Winterwatch has been available and, for first time, it will also publish information about flu, pressure on A&amp;E and hospital statistics in one single place. This will provide an invaluable source of information for health and social care professionals around the country.

Figures released today show that 29 per cent of healthcare workers are currently vaccinated in comparison to 11 per cent this time last year. Although this shows a positive increase in the early uptake of the vaccination, the numbers are still too low and more work has to be done.

Dame Sally said:

"The cold winter months bring additional risks to our health and well being. It’s important we all look after ourselves and those around us to make sure we stay safe and well.

"Winterwatch will provide an invaluable source of information for doctors, nurses and commissioners around the country.

"NHS staff keep our health service running and it is vital they continue to protect themselves, their patients and their families over the coming months."

The Health Secretary has also today announced that five hospitals will be able to provide extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) this winter. ECMO is an additional treatment for patients with severe reversible respiratory failure. The treatment oxygenates the blood outside the body when the lungs aren’t able to.

The five hospitals will be able to respond flexibly to surges in demand and treat up to 30 adult patients at any one time. It is anticipated that around 160 people may need this treatment this winter. The five hospitals are:

* Guy’s &amp; St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

* Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

* Royal Brompton &amp; Harefield Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

* University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

* University Hospitals of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust

Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley said

"ECMO is a very specialist treatment for people who are so severely ill with flu that their lungs aren’t able to work properly. England is one of the leading countries in the world in the provision of this treatment.

"I recently visited Leicester Royal Infirmary to meet the specialist staff there who have pioneered this treatment and are providing training to other centres. Through this expansion of ECMO capacity, the NHS will be able to save lives if life-threatening respiratory conditions strike.

"There is often more pressure on the NHS at this time of year. It deals with rises in slips, trips and falls, increases in admissions due to flu and other health problems associated with the colder weather and the winter vomiting bug norovirus. But the NHS is well prepared.

"Across Government, we are implementing our cold weather plans which are supported by our pledge of £30 million, which will help people to keep homes warm this winter."

Hospital Episode Statistics also show us that there were 462,300 hospital admissions for falls in 2010/11 in England . Out of these, 14,300 admissions were recorded as being for falls on the same level involving ice and snow.

Notes to Editors

For more information contact Department of Health newsdesk on 0207 210 5221

To access Winterwatch please visit http://www.dh.gov.uk/winterwatch

Winterwatch provides:

* Flu information and vaccine uptake figures
* NHS Emergency Care and A&amp;E data
* Links to numerous other useful sites containing important public health information.


Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221