The chairman of the Royal College of GPs has urged the government to rethink its mandatory vaccination policy for NHS workers.
Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said compulsory vaccination for health professionals in England was “not the right way forward”.
He said the vast majority of staff were vaccinated but some 70,000 to 80,000 were not and they accounted for 10% of staff at some hospitals or GP surgeries.
Taking unvaccinated staff out of frontline jobs by April 1 would lead to “massive consequences” for the NHS, Mr Marshall said, adding that a delay would give more time to administer booster injections.
He also said relaxing the deadline would allow for a “sensible conversation” about the principle of mandatory vaccines.
Staff working in the NHS staff must have a first jab by 3 February and be fully vaccinated by 1 April to continue in frontline roles.
The Department of Health said there were “no plans” to delay and it was “the right thing to do to protect patients”..
Jan Tregelles, CEO of Revitalise a charity supporting said: “A leaked document from the Health Department showed that data on the jabs’ effectiveness against Omicron weakens the case for compulsory vaccination. “
“This revelation has sparked outcry from the NHS who argue that enforcing mandatory vaccinations could see the NHS losing more than 70,000 staff by 01 April. With this, a Government U-turn on enforcing mandatory vaccination for NHS staff may now be on the cards.”
“But the social care system is currently battling this same problem and is experiencing the worst staffing crisis in memory: tens of thousands of care home staff left the sector in November, on top of an estimated 100,00 existing vacancies.”
“If the Government is questioning the worthiness of the mandate for the NHS, it is essential that they immediately instigate a major rethink for the social care mandate.”
“And, if the Government decides to scrap the mandate for the NHS and not for social care, this will be yet another way in which social care is seen as the poor relative of the NHS.”
“There cannot be one rule for the NHS and another for social care. Without the support of social care, the NHS can’t function.”