Compulsory vaccines for NHS staff
- AuthorReggie Lloyd
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not made any proposals to make Covid vaccination compulsory for NHS workers or care home staff.
However, in England on 11 November all care home workers must be fully vaccinated (unless exempt) and the Government has announced that by next spring all “frontline” NHS staff in England will need to be fully vaccinated.
It is not clear who will be classed as "frontline" but it seems it could include clerical and administrative staff who pass through wards.
The chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents England's NHS trusts, urged the government to think carefully about this announcement as he was concerned that the NHS would lose staff in trusts that are running on fine margins.
Losing key workers at a time when concerns about staffing gaps is a worry for NHS Trust. There are serious concerns that compulsory vaccination in England will alienate staff who are already under severe pressure on the front line.
Unison fears compulsory vaccination will adversely affect staff morale further and prompt workers to leave or result in them losing their job and advocates alternatives such as daily testing. Unison says that the Government made a mistake with mandatory jabs in social care which had led to an unprecedented staffing crisis.
Dominic Raab said it was indisputable that the more people who have the vaccine, particularly in vulnerable settings, the safer we will be.
From 11 November care homes in England must refuse entry to workers who have not been fully vaccinated, unless they have a medical exemption or there is an emergency.
More than 92% of frontline NHS staff have had their first dose and 89% are fully vaccinated. This is higher than the general working-age population, where about 81% have had both doses.
NHS vaccination rates vary among hospitals. Dorset County hospital has the highest at 94.6%;Bedford Hospital and Luton and Dunstable University Hospital have the lowest rate of fully vaccinated staff, at 79.7%.
France has introduced compulsory vaccination but it had to suspend 3,000 unvaccinated health workers in September, the French government said most of those suspensions were temporary and most staff ultimately agreed to get vaccinated.
It is not clear whether the public is sympathetic to vaccine-hesitant staff or whether the public are more concerned that patients should be treated by people with some protection against the virus.
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