Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been slammed by practice nurses as 'poorly informed' after appearing to suggest he was about to pass legislation to allow them to administer flu jabs. Appearing on BBC Breakfast to promote his plan to double the number of flu jabs given, Mr Hancock said: ‘We have changed the law so that more people can administer the jab. We want pharmacists, nurses and GPs to be able to administer the jab.’
The remarks brought a furious rebuttal from the RCN’s GPN Forum who tweeted: 'Year in, year out for decades nurses in General Practice have delivered the bulk of the flu vaccinations to the population of the U.K. It is therefore concerning that Matt Hancock is apparently unaware that #Nursing has delivered the #flucampaign for so long,
‘As the Health Secretary is so poorly informed, we are offering him the opportunity to meet with general practice nurses to discuss the actual scope of our work.’
The remarks drew widespread derision from other practice nurses, with @essexoldbird tweeting: ‘Still can't get over Matt Hancock saying the law has been changed to allow nurses to give flu jabs. Giving flu jabs has been my autumn occupation every year since 1996. He really knows the NHS, doesn't he?’@CharlotteNHSRN drew attention to his promise of legislation, saying ‘Well Officer, I didn’t realise I’d been breaking the law all this time by administrating Flu jabs. If this doesn’t demonstrate that the @GOVUK have no idea what the role of a nurse is, then I don’t know what will!'
The Queen’s Nursing Institute struck a more conciliatory tone with its chief executive Crystal Oldman tweeting: ‘@MattHancock I think you mis-spoke on the BBC news today. Registered Nurses, including General Practice Nurses have been administering the flu vaccine for years. No change in legislation needed. @TheQNI would be delighted to support a shadowing visit to a flu vaccine clinic.’
The Government has announced plans to double the number of those vaccinated against flu from 15 million to 30million, but figures have revealed that there was a drop in the proportion of those in vulnerable groups receiving the vaccination last year, from 50% to 45%. The World Health Organisation has previously said that countries should aim to vaccinate 75% of their vulnerable population.
The Department of Health was contacted for comment.