Editor: Common sense or unfair to force caring workers?
Would you leave your job and work elsewhere if you were forced to have a vaccination with which you disagreed?
We’re about to find out in thousands of cases. Frontline NHS staff in England will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid by the spring, health secretary Sajid Javid announced yesterday.
He told the Commons that the requirement would be enforced from April 1 next year, if Parliament agrees, to give unvaccinated staff time to get both doses.
He said: “Having considered the consultation responses, the advice of my officials and NHS leaders including the chief executive 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.”
Mr Javid praised the vaccination programme for helping the country into the winter months “in a much stronger position than last year,” with the vast majority of people having taken up the offer of a vaccine.
“Across the UK the overwhelming majority of us have made the positive choice to accept the offer of vaccines against Covid-19.
“Almost eight in every 10 people over the age of 12 have chosen to be double jabbed and over 10 million people have now received their boosters or third jabs,” he said.
The move comes after social care workers needed to be double jabbed by this week, or face losing their jobs.
But is that fair? If we’re forcing some people to be vaccinated – including many who are at the bottom of the payscale – then why not everyone?
Unison, the union which represents nearly half a million healthcare workers, warned the move could leave the NHS short-staffed as folk opt to leave instead.
Head of health Sara Gorton said: “Forcing jabs in care homes has prompted an unprecedented staffing crisis. The Government risks making the same mistake twice.
“Practical alternatives like daily testing used in other countries should have been considered.”
About 103,000 NHS staff were still unvaccinated on October 31, some seven per cent of the workforce. Add in social care roles and that is 120,000 jobs at risk.