Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Covid vaccination could be made compulsory for NHS workers

Jabs for jobs: NHS workers will be legally required to have Covid vaccinations under new plans with up to one in five health staff in some areas still unvaccinated

  • Ministers considering making Covid vaccine condition of employment in NHS 
  • Plan is already set to be implemented for workers in social care settings
  • A fifth of Covid deaths at some hospitals were patients who caught it on wards
  • Yesterday government hit 39,068,346 first doses of vaccine with over 30s rollout

Covid vaccinations would become compulsory for NHS staff under bold new plans being considered by ministers to crack down on transmission in hospitals.

It is believed that under the plans, having a jab would become a condition of employment by the health service. 

The Government has already consulted on whether to make jabs compulsory for social care workers and ministers are now weighing up whether to do the same for medics.

The scale of the change in rules is practically unprecedented in the NHS, although Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously cited the requirement for doctors to have a hepatitis B vaccine. 

Covid vaccinations would become compulsory for NHS workers under bold new plans being considered by ministers to crack down on transmission in hospitals

The scale of the change in rules is practically unprecedented in the NHS, although Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously cited the requirement for doctors to have a hepatitis B vaccine

This is to protect staff who could come into contact with sharp tools, bones or teeth, however the requirement is not written into law.

Mr Hancock previously said: ‘Making vaccines a condition of deployment is something many care homes have called for to help them provide greater protection for staff and residents in older people’s care homes and so save lives.’

Figures yesterday show that 39,068,346 people have had their first dose of vaccine with the successful rollout of the programme to everyone over 30.  

However, in some areas of the country as many as one in five NHS healthcare workers have yet to have a jab.

One Facebook group called ‘NHS workers for choice, no restrictions for declining a vaccine’ that was set up last year has attracted 2,600 members.

Figures yesterday show that 39,068,346 people have had their first dose of vaccine with the successful rollout of the programme to everyone over 30

In some areas of the country as many as one in five NHS healthcare workers have yet to have a jab. One Facebook group called ‘NHS workers for choice, no restrictions for declining a vaccine’ that was set up last year has attracted 2,600 members

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said it was important to examine how to protect the most vulnerable from the risk of contracting Covid-19. 

Mr Zahawi told Sky News: ‘It’s absolutely the right thing and it would be incumbent on any responsible government to have the debate, to do the thinking as to how we go about protecting the most vulnerable by making sure that those who look after them are vaccinated.’ 

However, a senior Labour frontbencher warned that ‘threatening’ NHS staff would be less effective than working with those who had doubts about the jab. 

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said: ‘Given we have got a recruitment crisis in parts of the NHS, I think it’s far more important we try and work with staff rather than against them.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said it was important to examine how to protect the most vulnerable from the risk of contracting Covid-19

‘Threatening staff, I don’t think is a good idea.’

Public Health England and the NHS had been successful when they had worked with people to address their doubts and answer questions about the jab, she said.

‘I would like to see the Government work with the NHS and social care staff.’

A consultation on the proposals for care homes by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) closed last week and is expected to be given the green light. 

Speaking about the plans to extend this to doctors and nurses, a source told The Telegraph: ‘There are very early conversations taking place. This has been driven by feedback from the social care consultation on mandating.

‘It would save lives and there is precedent with the guidance for doctors to get the hepatitis B vaccine.’

Reports of such a move have faced criticism in the past, with some doctors calling the idea of a mandatory vaccination ‘discriminatory’ and more likely to impact certain ethnic minority groups.

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