Mandatory Covid vaccination for NHS and social care workers is to be scrapped after warnings of severe staff shortages if the plan went ahead. The Telegraph has the story.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, will on Monday meet fellow ministers on the Covid-Operations Cabinet committee to rubber stamp the decision on the about-turn.
Multiple government sources said ministers are expected to end the requirement because the Omicron Covid variant, now dominant in the U.K., is milder than previous strains.
The move comes after warnings that almost 80,000 healthcare workers would be forced out of their jobs because they had declined to take two doses of a Covid vaccine.
The Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of GPs have all pushed for the requirement to be delayed, with warnings it would have a “catastrophic” impact.
The jab requirement for NHS workers was meant to come into force in April – making this Thursday, Feb 3rd, the last day on which staff could get their first jab in order to be fully vaccinated in time.
The legal requirement for care home staff to be fully vaccinated came into effect in November. An estimated 40,000 people lost their jobs over the policy. Under the new rules, they are expected to be able to return to work in the sector.
On Sunday night, care home representatives expressed fury at the handling of the issue, saying the flip-flopping had “devastated our workforce and brought providers to their knees”.
The change of approach reflects Downing Street’s increasing focus on how the UK must “learn to live with Covid” as the surge of Omicron cases fades.
The right decision now, and a huge relief of course for staff who were facing the prospect of losing their jobs and careers. But why did it take so long? Why did the Government have to be pressured into making the right move? It also seems to say something that when the care sector faced the same staffing crisis in the autumn due to the vaccine mandate the Government pressed ahead and sacked thousands of workers, but now university-educated medics are making a fuss and the health service is threatened, suddenly it’s time for a rethink. Ministers may say that in the autumn they faced an uncertain winter with Delta, whereas now we have Omicron and it’s in decline. But it still reflects a lack of proper impact assessment and cost-benefit analysis, and as so often in this pandemic, a sense of proportion.
Worth reading in full.