Mandatory Vaccines Enforced for Frontline NHS Workers
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Today, on the 10th of November 2021, it was announced that it will be made compulsory for all NHS frontline workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom, told MPs that he is aiming to meet a deadline for the beginning of April to give 103,000 unvaccinated NHS workers time to get both jabs. Mandatory vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers have already been enforced in France, Italy and the United States.
As it currently stands 93% of NHS frontline workers have had their first vaccine and 90% are completely vaccinated. Javid explains that by enforcing mandatory vaccinations the NHS will be able to “protect patients in the NHS, protect colleagues in the NHS and, of course, protect the NHS itself”. The official deadline for these vaccinations will be 12 weeks’ parliamentary approval of the rule, which is estimated to be in April. Javid went on to say that no unvaccinated NHS workers should be “scapegoated or shamed” and should rather be encouraged to make a “positive choice”.
Arguments are being made both for and against the enforcing of this rule. Those in support of the new rule say that the virus poses a great risk to vulnerable patients in hospitals. Ensuring NHS workers are fully vaccinated reduces the risk of infection and transmission.
There is, however, a concern that this might cause many of the unvaccinated NHS workers to quit, resulting in a large potential gap in nursing staff, clinicians, and other important healthcare roles. These unvaccinated NHS workers have until April to consider being vaccinated or not, but it is likely that a decline in healthcare workers could be seen almost immediately in response to Javid’s announcement. There are those who will be exempt from this rule of forced vaccination and those who have no face-to-face interaction with patients.
Unison, the union that represents both NHS and care home staff, warned that there will be consequences. Christina McAnea, Unison’s general secretary, had the following to say in response to the news: “The staffing crisis will become a catastrophe for a sector already on its knees. Some homes may have to close if care staff are barred from their jobs. Forcing the vaccine on care staff is an own goal by the government.” She added that take-up rates would only increase with “persuasion, not punishment.”
The story is still on-going and the outcome and reactions to this news is a pressing topic for all healthcare workers and employers. We will be paying close attention to the situation and will continue to share updates on our social media pages and our blog. Follow MCG Healthcare’s social media pages for job opportunities and more information to come.