The NHS will begin sacking staff who have not had a Covid vaccine in just 16 days as the deadline to receive the first jab approaches on February 3rd, new guidance reveals. The Telegraph has more.
All frontline staff are required to have had two jabs by April 1, meaning the first dose must have been administered by Feb 3rd. More than 80,000 – 6% of the workforce – remain unvaccinated despite repeated efforts to boost take-up.
Last week, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) urged ministers to delay the rules, saying they could have a “catastrophic” impact on the delivery of services.
NHS guidance to employers says all frontline staff who have not been vaccinated should start being called into formal meetings from Feb 4th and warned that they face dismissal. Dismissal notices will start being issued from that day, with the notice period ending on March 31st.
Roles covered by the rules include porters, receptionists and ward clerks as well as doctors and nurses.
NHS managers have been told they can redeploy frontline staff who will not be vaccinated into backroom roles that do not involve direct patient contact. But the guidance says they do not have to be concerned with finding “suitable alternative employment”, nor will redundancy payments be made to those who are dismissed.
Separate local guidance for GPs suggests creating different entrances and exits for unvaccinated staff to avoid them crossing paths with patients. The advice, from the Cambridgeshire local medical committee, says this would be a “pragmatic” approach.
The NHS guidance says organisations should warn regulators if they identify areas likely to be hit by staffing shortages that could threaten patient safety.
Workers will be asked to show Covid passes to prove they have had their jabs, or for evidence to show that they are exempt.
The Government’s own impact assessment says 73,000 NHS staff in England could be lost because of the rules. There are currently vacancies for almost 100,000 NHS jobs, including 40,000 nursing posts.
Last week Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, told the Commons the Government remained committed to plans to introduce compulsory jabs for all NHS frontline staff from April.
He said those who failed to get vaccinated were “standing on the shoulders” of others who had taken steps to help protect the population, adding that, since consultation began, take-up of jabs by NHS workers had risen from 92% to 94%.
There it is in black-and-white: they’re not being sacked because they’re deemed unsafe, but because others have been vaccinated and they’re perceived as free riders. It’s not about patient safety (how much difference will the last 6% really make to transmission, even if you assume the vaccines are highly effective against Omicron, which they’re not) but about vindictive, self-defeating politics that will only worsen the NHS staffing crisis and mistreat thousands of hard-working people who were heroes until last week. The Government needs to U-turn on this now before it makes yet another unforced error and further undermines its authority and support.
Worth reading in full.