Tyne & Wear

Apology over 'confusing' Newcastle flu vaccination form

Section of flu vaccination consent form
Image caption The order of the questions appears to have confused many parents

Health chiefs have apologised after thousands of schoolchildren missed out on the flu vaccine due to a mix-up with consent forms.

In what is believed to have been a city-wide problem in Newcastle, many forms were not completed properly due to their "extremely confusing" layout.

One school was told the day before its pupils were due to be vaccinated that more than 50% of forms were incomplete.

Parents have been given details about booking an immunisation appointment.

The forms in question saw a mandatory "consent" section printed below the "non consent" heading.

Gosforth Central Middle School was among those affected and in a letter to parents it said it was "frustrated and disappointed" by the situation.

"We have looked at the form and we think it is extremely confusing and can see how many of you made this error without knowing," the letter said.

Confusion

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for school-aged immunisation services in the city, said the layout changes had been intended "to make it easier for parents/carers to state they did not wish their child to be vaccinated".

"We would like to apologise for the confusion caused by our consent form," said Dr Jonny Cardwell, consultant paediatrician and business unit director for child health.

"We acknowledge that this has led to some parents/carers who wish their child to be vaccinated completing the form incorrectly and therefore not giving consent.

"We are unable to immunise any child without strict approval being completed by a parent/carer."

Additional clinics will be held for youngsters who were not able to be vaccinated at school, including on evenings and weekends.

The trust is planning to use electronic consent forms for the next flu season "which will ensure people complete all questions", Dr Cardwell added.

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