Flu vaccinations for Ayrshire NHS staff have been suspended due to 'unprecedented demand'.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran announced it would be unable to provide the flu jabs and has had to seek additional supplies, as its annual campaign started.

The decision will affect all workers apart from Care at Home, Care Home and ‘highest priority’ area staff.

An email sent to health board staff informed them that the vaccinations had been temporarily cancelled.

The suspension has been criticised by union figures arguing that the flu jab is ‘more important than ever’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Sarah Leslie, Human Resources Director for the health board, said: “We are committed to supporting the safe delivery of the seasonal flu campaign for our staff. With COVID-19, the seasonal flu vaccination programme is more important than ever to protect population health this autumn and winter.

“This year there has been an unprecedented demand from staff for the flu vaccine and many staff across health and social care have engaged positively, opting to be vaccinated at the start of our campaign.

“As a result, NHS Ayrshire & Arran is currently revising our forecast for demand, and has temporarily paused some aspects of the staff vaccine programme.  We are working closely with National Procurement to understand when additional supplies may be available in order to plan the next phase of the programme which will run until February 2021.”

Unison spokesman Gordon McKay told the BBC that if there is a national supply issue then the Scottish Government must address it.

He said: "If, however, the issue is solely in NHS Ayrshire & Arran, the chief executive needs to be open and transparent with staff."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We know NHS Scotland boards have seen increased and earlier demand this year for the vaccine from eligible groups, including health and social care staff.

“Boards are responsible for delivering the vaccine this year including managing their allocated vaccine supply in line with demand within their areas. 

“The Scottish Government has procured sufficient vaccine to vaccinate all those who have been invited to receive the seasonal flu vaccine, in line with uptake planning assumptions of 2.4 million people, and we are working closely with National Services Scotland to ensure that Boards can access this stock as required.”