Government U-Turn on NHS Mandatory Vaccines?
Mandatory Covid vaccines for NHS staff are set to be axed amid fears of a mass exodus of healthcare workers, according to reports.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid will meet ministers on today (Monday 31st January) where it is expected the Covid-Operation Cabinet committee will confirm a U-turn ahead of an official announcement later this week.
NHS staff have until February 3 to get a vaccination, but ministers are now expected reverse the decision due to fears the health service could lose up to 80,000 workers who remain unvaccinated.
According to sources, the Government believes the less severe Omicron variant has changed matters as although it is more transmissible, it is not as virulent.
The policy was introduced in care and nursing homes last November, causing thousands of staff to lose their jobs and preventing many thousands more from joining the sector.
The care provider organisation, The Independent Care Group (ICG), has welcomed the expected U-turn but wants to know if those who lost their jobs in November will be able to return to work.
Chair Mike Padgham said: “We have always believed the vaccination was a good thing but should be a personal choice and that making it mandatory was going to rob social care of vital staff at a time when we need every team member available.
“We are glad that, finally, the Government is seeing sense and scrapping this damaging policy.
“There is little doubt that the introduction of the policy in November exacerbated the current staff shortages, already dire because of the pandemic and the impact of Brexit.
“This policy caused a lot of staffing issues for care and nursing home owners and upset and heartache for those who lost their jobs – we need to know now if they can have their jobs back.
“I think this illustrates the huge gap between NHS care and social care and the way they are treated. We were robbed of thousands of staff back in November when the policy came in for care and nursing home workers and nobody lifted a finger.
“But when a similar threat is levelled toward NHS staff, the policy is reversed. It is another in a long history of slaps in the face for social care, which, given the services it provides, should have the same respect as NHS care.
“This just shows that they don’t understand the difference between the NHS and social care sectors and that both need to be strong to support each other.”
David Kelly, General Manager EMEA at Deputy, the workforce management app, said:
“This policy is tone-deaf to the views of our health and social care workers. More than a third of those workers said they are not comfortable with the policy in an independent survey. In fact, 9% said they will reconsider whether to continue working in their current role and 2% plan to quit if it goes ahead.
“These are some of the most committed and hardworking people in this country. These ultimatums from the government are forcing many to choose between a career they love and their own personal beliefs or health concerns. With staffing already under pressure, losing further workers would be a disaster for the NHS and our healthcare system. UK care homes are already at crisis point. A much broader discussion is needed around improvement in all aspects of employee experience in health and social care.”