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Sajid Javid Confirms Compulsory Vaccination For Frontline NHS Staff

3 min read

Sajid Javid has confirmed that Covid-19 vaccines will be compulsory for all frontline NHS staff in England from April next year.

NHS workers who have not yet received the jab will have until Spring to get vaccinated.

Staff with medical reasons for not having a vaccine, and workers who do not have face-to-face contact with patients will be exempt from the rule.

Speaking in the Commons today, the Health Secretary described his decision as imperative to “avoid preventable harm and protect patients in the NHS”.

“The weight of the data shows our vaccinations have kept people safe and they have saved lives. This is especially true for vulnerable people in health and care settings,” Javid said.

“I’m mindful not only of our need to protect human life, but of our imperative to protect the NHS and those services upon which we all rely,” he added.

“Having considered the consultation responses, the advice of my officials and NHS leaders including the CEO of the NHS, I have concluded that all those working in the NHS and social care will have to be vaccinated.

“We must avoid preventable harm and protect patients in the NHS, protect colleagues in the NHS and of course protect the NHS itself.”

Earlier this year Javid confirmed that Covid vaccines would be compulsory for care home staff, a rule that will come into effect next week, and has been blamed in part for a labour shortage in the sector. 

Trade unions have described the move by the Health Secretary as having the potential to cause “more harm than good”.

“We are really concerned that the government hasn’t listened to what many people told them during the consultation, which is that potentially they are reaching for a sledgehammer on this using the law,” Helga Pile, Deputy Head of Health at Unison said.

“It’s going to do more harm than good,” she added.

“We’ve got over 90% of staff who’ve already had the vaccine and the methods that we’ve been working with employers on have been really successful in terms of persuasion, giving people reassurance and making them know that if they do have a reaction, they can have time off.

“That’s worked really well, but now we potentially risk undoing some of that by compelling people.” 

Unite National Officer for Health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, confirmed her trade union maintains its “long-standing position that we don’t support mandatory vaccination for NHS staff or those working in social care”.

“We believe that a campaign of persuasion of the benefits of the Covid vaccination is the best way to achieve maximum coverage,” Colenzo said.

“The NHS is already seeing a severe ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis with an estimated 90,000 vacancies and imposing a regime of mandatory vaccination will just exacerbate this crisis as we go into a very difficult winter for the health service with an exhausted staff still battling the continuing 21-month old pandemic.”

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