The former Health Secretary has declared that NHS workers must be coerced into having both doses of a Covid vaccine before the onset of winter, while criticising unvaccinated staff for dismissing “all the scientific and clinical advice”. However, the current Health Secretary Sajid Javid wishes to delay the implementation of mandatory vaccinations for NHS employees until April of next year to avoid a severe staffing shortage over the Christmas period. The MailOnline has more.
Hancock, who quit in June after breaching his own social distancing rules by kissing a married colleague, said the move would act as another “tool to save lives” during what is projected to be a harsh winter for the health service.
He also scorned NHS staff who are still not vaccinated and don’t have a valid medical reason, warning that it was their “moral duty” and that they had “ignored all the scientific and clinical advice”.
Ministers have for weeks been considering whether to make Covid jabs compulsory within the health service after pushing through the requirement for care home workers in the summer.
But last week the Health Secretary Sajid Javid appeared to push back the inoculation deadline until April amid warnings from NHS bosses that introducing a ‘no jab, no job’ policy now could leave hospitals understaffed at a crucial period.
Writing in the the Telegraph, Hancock, who was Health Secretary for three years, warned ministers against delaying compulsory vaccinations for the sector into the new year.
He said: “having looked at all the evidence, I am now convinced we must require vaccination for everyone who works not just in social care but the NHS, and get it in place as fast as possible… so as we prepare to a face a difficult winter, let’s use all the tools we have to save lives.
Imagine the cancer patient, already battling another deadly disease, being cared for by a nurse. Who can put their hand on their heart and say they’d be happy to tell that patient their nurse could have the vaccine, but has chosen against all scientific and clinical advice to ignore it.”
Hancock said doctors and nurses had a “moral duty” to get the Covid vaccine to protect their patients.
A SAGE adviser said today it was a “general standard of hygiene” for anyone in a frontline role in contact with vulnerable patients to be double vaccinated against Covid. But they stopped short of calling for jabs to be made compulsory, saying this should only be done as a “last resort”.
NHS England figures show only a small minority of NHS staff are still to get two doses of the vaccine, with more than nine in 10 doctors and nurses having already received both jabs. Health chiefs warned yesterday that hospitals are already at peak winter levels of bed occupancy despite it being early in the season.
All care home workers will be required to have had two doses of the Covid vaccine from Thursday or lose their jobs, under a policy brought in while Hancock was Health Secretary.
But the Government’s own figures suggest this will lead to some 40,000 care home workers losing their jobs in the already understaffed sector. This could lead to the closure of up to 500 homes, putting extra pressure on hospitals which will be unable to discharge patients well enough to be taken off the wards.