Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been directly challenged by an unvaccinated hospital consultant over the Government’s policy of compulsory Covid jabs for NHS staff. Sky News has more.
During a visit to King’s College Hospital in south London, Mr. Javid asked staff members on the intensive care unit about their thoughts on new rules requiring vaccination for NHS workers.
And Steve James, a consultant anaesthetist who has been treating coronavirus patients since the start of the pandemic, told the Health Secretary about his displeasure.
“I’m not happy about that,” he said. “I had Covid at some point, I’ve got antibodies, and I’ve been working on Covid ICU since the beginning.
“I have not had a vaccination, I do not want to have a vaccination. The vaccines are reducing transmission only for about eight weeks for Delta, with Omicron it’s probably less.
“And for that, I would be dismissed if I don’t have a vaccine? The science isn’t strong enough.”
Mr. James also revealed another of his colleagues held the same position.
Mr. Javid replied: “I respect that, but there’s also many different views. I understand it, and obviously we have to weigh all that up for both health and social care, and there will always be a debate about it.”
The consultant suggested the Health Secretary could use the “changing picture” of the Covid pandemic during the Omicron wave to “reconsider” the rule.
Alternatively, Mr. James suggested, the government could “nuance” the rules to allow those who have antibodies – but acquired from infection and not vaccination – to not be required to have a jab.
He told the Health Secretary that it “didn’t make sense” to dismiss doctors who already had Covid antibodies, but who did not want to be vaccinated.
“The protection that I’ve got from transmission is probably the equivalent to someone who is vaccinated,” Mr James said.
But Mr. Javid told him “at some point that will wane as well”. He added that the government takes the “very best advice” from vaccine experts.
“I respect your views and more than that I respect everything you’re doing here and the lives you’re saving,” the Health Secretary told Mr. James.
I respect everything you’re doing – but I’m going to sack you for not getting vaccinated, even though you’ve got antibodies and the vaccines don’t prevent infection or transmission.