We can’t afford to lose NHS staff over vaccine mandates

The health secretary is picking yet another pointless fight with NHS staff, writes Ian Hamilton

Thursday 04 November 2021 12:39
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<p>‘It is not clear if the health secretary will advise NHS employers to sack any staff who refuse the vaccine ... the NHS is already carrying 93,000 staff vacancies’ </p>

‘It is not clear if the health secretary will advise NHS employers to sack any staff who refuse the vaccine ... the NHS is already carrying 93,000 staff vacancies’

After weeks of dropping heavy hints, the health secretary is poised to introduce mandatory vaccinations for NHS staff from April next year. This gives staff and their employers five months to not only ensure they are fully vaccinated for Covid-19, but flu too. Most doctors and nurses working in the NHS have already been vaccinated for Covid but a smaller proportion have received the flu vaccine.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges as well as the body representing trusts, NHS providers, are warning the health secretary about the severe consequences this will have on staff retention. The fear is that staff will resign rather than be forced into getting vaccinated. The majority of those unvaccinated are either pregnant women or those from minority ethnic groups. Both have understandable reservations about the impact the vaccines could have on them.

It is not clear if the health secretary will advise NHS employers to sack any staff who refuse to be vaccinated or that trusts which are already facing significant staff shortages will comply with this edict from the Department of Health. It is a big ask when the NHS is already carrying around 93,000 staff vacancies and this decision has the potential to add another 100,000 to that tally. Who would blame any trusts that rebelled against this decree from the government?

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