The head of one of London’s busiest hospitals has said he is worried about losing staff who do not get vaccinated before new rules come into force.
Frontline NHS workers in England must have their Covid jabs by April – or face being moved to another role.
Clive Kay, the chief executive of King’s College Hospital, said one in ten of his staff remains unvaccinated – meaning he could lose more than 1,000 workers.
He explained this would be an “extreme” position and his job was to encourage workers to get jabbed.
The hospital is ramping up its efforts as the deadline for them to get a first dose approaches.
Asked if he was worried, Dr Kay told the BBC: “Yes, of course. I think my job is to worry about everything in relation to whether or not we have enough staff here to provide care for patients safely.”
But he said it was ultimately up to staff to decide.
“We will not make individuals be vaccinated,” Dr Kay told the BBC’s Sophie Raworth on the Sunday Morning programme. “We must treat them with kindness, with compassion, we must give them every single opportunity to talk through if they don’t want the vaccine.”
Government minister Nadhim Zahawi defended the policy, saying: “We have a duty of care when looking after the most vulnerable to protect ourselves and to protect them.”
The NHS is already severely understaffed and is reportedly short of about 93,000 workers.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said in November that more than 93 per cent of NHS frontline staff had received their first dose and 90 per cent were fully vaccinated.
Dr Kay was reluctant to predict exactly how many unvaccinated staff he might lose, and said the impact at his hospital would depend where they worked. “We’ll have to address that as we pass through the coming weeks. We will re-organise as we need to,” he said.
On Twitter, he explained he chose to be interviewed because “Covid-19 vaccines save lives”. He paid tribute to his colleagues’ work and said he wanted everyone, including King’s College Hospital staff, to come forward for their jabs.
The UK marked a grim milestone yesterday. More than 150,000 people have now died within 28 days of a positive Covid test since the pandemic began.
Government figures on Saturday recorded a further 313 deaths, the highest daily figure since February last year.
Mr Javid said the new data is “good news”, but also warned the strain remained “highly infectious”.
“We know that Omicron is less severe and we know that once boosted, your chance of hospitalisation, our latest analysis shows, is almost 90 per cent less than what it was with Delta,” Mr Javid said.
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