Full vaccination against Covid-19 is set to become mandatory for all health and social care staff in England who have face-to-face contact with patients, the government has today confirmed.
The move to make Covid-19 vaccination a deployment condition has already started from 11 November for staff working in nursing homes for adults.
“I have carefully considered the answers and the evidence and I have come to the conclusion that the scales clearly point to one side”
Sajid Javid |
Speaking in the House of Commons today, health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said the policy would now be expanded to include NHS staff as well as those working in the independent and local authority sectors.
Under parliamentary approval, the requirement to be vaccinated against Covid-19 could be implemented from April 2022.
The rule does not apply to those with medical exemption or those without direct contact with patients or service users as part of their role.
A connected proposal to also mandate flu vaccination for health and social care workers will not be pursued at this stage, Mr Javid added.
Mr Javid’s confirmation now follows various media leaks suggesting that the government is pushing forward with plans to extend mandatory Covid-19 vaccines to the NHS and other health and care staff.
The latest figures show that 90% of NHS staff as a whole have the same dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, although Mr Javid says with some confidence it is below 80%.
The government believes there remain more than 103,000 NHS workers and 105,000 home care workers who have not been fully vaccinated.
The decision to continue mandatory vaccination for nursing home workers and after all health and care staff was announced through the responses of two equal public consultations.
The most recent policy expansion consultation received more than 34,000 responses and Mr.
He said: “Support for making vaccination a condition for deployment is constrained by concerns that some people may choose to leave their posts if we continue with it.
“I carefully considered the answers and the evidence and I came to the conclusion that the scales clearly tipped to one side.
“The weight of the data shows how our vaccinations keep people safe and they save lives and this is especially true for vulnerable people in health and care settings.”
He said the introduction of mandatory vaccination in the NHS would help to prevent preventable harm as well as protect patients, staff and the health service itself.
However, Mr Javid added that this “does not mean that I am unaware of the concerns about workers’ pressures this winter and even more so the consequences for some people who may have chosen to leave their jobs because of decision we made ”.
“We can never afford to lose thousands of NHS staff overnight”
He said he chose to give 12 weeks between parliamentary approval and the requirement to be implemented in the spring to allow time for “workers’ planning ”and work to convince those remaining unvaccinated to receive offer by, for example, one-on. – a conversation.
The consultation also asked whether flu vaccination should be ordered, although Mr Javid said the feedback received was that “we should focus on Covid-19”.
The requirements also do not apply to booster vaccines. However, the government said the situation would continue to be reviewed and that regulations could be amended in the future to make booster and flu jabs mandatory if necessary.
The secretary of health and social care for Labor, Jonathan Ashworth, urged Javid to “continue to be vigilant”.
“We know the NHS is under the most severe pressure this winter, we know waiting lists are close to 6 million and we know there are over 90,000 vacancies across the NHS. , “he added.
“That is why there is concern over the level of confidence that a policy, however commendable in principle, can exacerbate some of these staffing problems.
“We can never afford to lose thousands of NHS staff overnight.”
The government has promised to publish and impact assessment before MPs vote on the new policy and Mr.
“The government and owners must continue to engage with the small minority who have chosen not to have access to the vaccine”
Meanwhile, unions representing health and social care staff have raised concerns about the move to regulate vaccinations and said the focus should be on persuasion not coercion.
Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “This is not something the government has to do.
“The effective and supportive approach taken by the NHS trusts has attracted the majority of health staff with similar shots to Covid.
“Now this sledgehammer policy risks doing more harm than good.”
He warned that forcing jabs on care homes is triggering an “unprecedented staff crisis” and it could also happen in other settings.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said the union’s vision was that a “campaign to attract the benefits of Covid vaccination is the best way to achieve maximum coverage” , instead of ordering them.
“The NHS has already seen a severe‘ recruitment and retention ’crisis with an estimated 90,000 vacancies and the imposition of a mandatory vaccination regime will exacerbate this crisis as we go into a difficult winter for in the health service with a tired staff still struggling with the ongoing 21 -month pandemic, ”he warned.
Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, noted that most of the nursing staff immediately took up their vaccine offer, leading to the launch to the public.
“In the five months until this decision becomes effective, the government and owners must continue to engage the small minority who choose not to have the vaccine,” he added.
“It’s important to understand their concerns, support them to understand the importance of the vaccine and make that important choice.”