Hundreds of people took to the city centre yesterday, Saturday, January 22, to march against the new policy, which will see unvaccinated health workers out of a job in April if they choose not to comply.
Those at the protest said they were marching against the ‘infringement on their freedom’ and in a bid to ‘stop any division’ between those who have had their Covid jabs and those who have not.
Similar ‘freedom marches’ were held in Leeds, Manchester and London at the same time.
One person, who wishes to remain anonymous, told The Star: “I'm a care worker who sadly lost my job in a nursing home that I really loved last year due to the mandates and after working diligently throughout the whole of this face to face with positive cases.
“I also know numerous colleagues and people who took their jabs despite not wanting to, purely to keep their livelihoods and income. Genuinely either being scared of unemployment or being coerced.
“I'm not anti-anything but I do stand for personal choice and bodily autonomy, which is what we offer all the people in our care who have mental capacity.
"Sometimes we agree with their choice over any number of medical treatments and sometimes we may not - but at the end of the day it is their right to choose. We have the duty to respect that, but it seems that this has been taken from us as staff for a medical intervention that has been proven to not stop transmission.
"What we did yesterday was a pure day of calmness and solidarity. We want to care and we want to keep our professional careers and we want people to be able to talk about it. This has a huge mental health impact also.”
The new rules will require any NHS workers to have had their first vaccine by February 3, and to be fully jabbed by April 1 if they wish to keep their frontline roles.
The Royal College of GPs has now called on the Government to delay the deadline in a bid to avoid staff shortages.
Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, featured on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday, and said there would be ‘massive consequences’ for the NHS if the policy came into force by April.
However, the Prime Minister told the House of Commons last week that NHS staff had a ‘professional responsibility’ to get the jab in order to protect patients.
So far the Government has ruled out any delays or changes to the new policy, although Boris Johnson did say ministers will ‘reflect’ on the decision as things go forwards, adding: “We don't want to drive people out of the service."
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care also said receiving the Covid-19 vaccine was the ‘right thing to do’ for frontline staff.