Equally Well leaders have sent a letter to Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP, asking that those living with severe mental illness and their carers are added to the priority list for the autumn’s flu immunisation programme.

Many, but not all, living with a diagnosis of severe mental illness may already get priority as a result of their age or other health conditions. But some people will miss out without this vital step being taken.

Proactively reaching out to people with severe mental illness to ensure they are offered immunisation against flu will save lives, building on the work NHS England has already undertaken to reach out to those who are eligible.

This would also follow the example of New Zealand, whose government recently decided to make this change based on the compelling evidence of need.

Reports from Australia on the worsening flu season also raise concerns that a bad flu season will develop
here this winter, leading to mass infections and hospitalisations.

We are urging the government to act now to give the NHS time to prepare and ensure no-one with a severe mental illness is left behind.