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Nearly 40,000 wrongly told to get a flu jab

PUBLISHED

The NHS has erroneously written to thousands of patients who have had glandular fever in the past asking them to get a flu jab from their GP.

The error left some GPs with practice phone lines blocked last week while reception staff have had to explain to patients they are not actually eligible for free flu vaccination.

Nearly 40,000 letters were sent out to patients with a past history indicating glandular fever because of a coding error at NHS Digital. This was meant to identify patients with suppressed immune systems which would include those who currently have glandular fever and encourage them to contact their GP practice to arrange vaccination.

However, the historical cases were not excluded, leading to the letters being automatically generated even when the glandular fever diagnosis was decades old.

When NHS Digital realised the error, it contacted NHS England – which was responsible for posting out the letters – and managed to stop others being sent out.

An NHS Digital spokesman said: “During a process to identify patients eligible for a flu vaccination, glandular fever was incorrectly included in a complex list of conditions that cause persistent immunosuppression. This led to some patients incorrectly receiving a letter encouraging them to seek a flu vaccination.

“There has been no adverse clinical impact for patients and the issue was quickly resolved before the majority of letters were sent.” NHSD said patients who had received the letter would receive another one to explain and to reassure them."

Read full story (paywalled) 

Source: HSJ, 4 November 2020

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