The Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed today that 1.2m full time NHS staff will have to mandatory vaccines which includes those who work in social care.
Javid told MPs in the House of Commons that he had consulted with officials and NHS chiefs before making his decision.
The Health Secretary said that health workers carry a “unique responsibility” as they have close contact those who are vulnerable.
He said, “Whether it’s in our care homes or our hospitals… the first duty of those working in health and social care is to avoid preventable harm to the people that they care for.”
He said: “I’ve carefully considered the responses and the evidence and I’ve concluded that the scale is clearly tipped to one side.
“The weight of the data shows our vaccinations have kept people safe and they have saved lives.”
He added, “Only those who can show that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can be employed or engaged in those settings.”
However NHS staff do have two exceptions, those who are medically exempt and workers who do not have face to face contact with patients.
Javid said one-to-one conversations will be held staff in the NHS who have not been vaccinated to try and make it “as easy as possible.”
He added,: “No one in the NHS or care that is currently unvaccinated should be scapegoated, singled out, or shamed.
“That would be totally unacceptable.
“This is about supporting them to make a positive choice to protect vulnerable people, to protect their colleagues, and to protect themselves.”
The Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth urged Javid to proceed “with caution.”
He said, “I would urge the secretary of state to proceed with caution because we know the NHS is under the most intense pressure this winter already.
“We know waiting lists are at close to six million and we know there are over 90,000 vacancies across the NHS, and we know the chancellor failed to allocate funding for training budgets to train the medics that we need.”
Ashworth added that there will be “anxiety at Trust level that a policy, however laudable in principle,” which will exasperate some of the staffing issues.
Javid responded to Ashworth, “The grace period after parliament votes, so that those in the NHS and social care that have not yet chosen to take any vaccine, that they will have plenty of time to do so.”
He told MPs that so far 93% of staff throughout the NHS have had their first dose with 90% having had both.
He added, “that does leave around 103,000 people in the NHS who are yet unvaccinated.”
He admitted its “hard to know” how many NHS workers will have the vaccine by the 1 April 2022 deadline.
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