Hospital staff have been urged to ensure they get vaccinated against swine flu when drugs become available this month.

The NHS has ordered 132 million doses of vaccine, which will be distributed to primary care trusts for distribution to members of the public.

But guidance from the NHS Confederation has warned that staff who are likely to come into contact with the H1N1 virus should also be vaccinated.

The guidance states: ‘We know that uptake of vaccines among NHS staff tends to be fairly low. Local leadership will have a critical role to play to ensure a high uptake - particularly in acute trusts where uptake can be among the lowest, but where the need may actually be greatest.’

Meanwhile chief executives and boards have been urged to ensure responsibility for flu preparedness sits with an individual.

They must also stress-test pandemic plans to ensure they can continue providing high-quality care to flu and non-flu patients, including during a second sustained flu wave of up to five months.