All frontline NHS staff in England WILL need to be fully vaccinated against Covid by next spring 


Frontline NHS staff in England must get two doses of the Covid vaccine by next spring or lose their jobs, the Government is expected to announce today.

Whitehall sources claim the April deadline will give enough time for unvaccinated employees to get their jabs.

Only the Covid vaccine will be compulsory, the BBC reports, with the flu jab strongly recommended but not required for staff on hospital wards.

Health chiefs said the ‘no jab, no job’ policy would likely help to boost jab uptake in the health service providing it was approached in the right way. They added it was a ‘useful opportunity’ to open conversations about the jab with staff who have not got their jabs.

More than nine in ten doctors, nurses and administrative staff in the NHS are already fully vaccinated. But some 110,000 out of 1.4million employees are yet to get their first dose.

Care home workers must be fully vaccinated against Covid by Thursday or face redundancy, after ministers announced they would make jabs compulsory for the sector in June. 

Industry leaders say up to 60,000 employees — roughly a tenth of the workforce — are set to lose their jobs because they have not been vaccinated. They warn this will lead hundreds of homes to close or limit their bed numbers because of staff shortages. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson watches as nurse Sandra Guy gives a Covid-19 booster jab to an NHS facilities worker during a visit to Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland yesterday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson watches as nurse Sandra Guy gives a Covid-19 booster jab to an NHS facilities worker during a visit to Hexham General Hospital in Northumberland yesterday

NHS staff can be exempt from the double-vaccine requirement if they have a medical reason, such as an allergy to an ingredient in the vaccine or previously experienced a serious side-effect.

No similar proposals have been announced for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which set their own policy on whether Covid vaccination is required.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers which represents hospital trusts, said that making vaccines compulsory in the NHS could boost uptake.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘If you look at other nations that have done this, there is no doubt that if you do it carefully, at the point when you announce the fact that you are going to have mandatory vaccinations in the sector, it does provide quite a useful opportunity to then have those kind of further conversations.

Care staff forced out over two-jab rule 

Britain’s social care crisis deepened yesterday as it emerged that just 3,000 people replied to a major recruitment drive to tackle staff shortages.

Hundreds of care homes say they may have to close and evict residents amid a potential shortage of 170,000 staff.

The problem is being made much worse by the new rule insisting that everyone working in the sector must be double-jabbed by Thursday.

Around 60,000 unvaccinated social care staff in England are losing their jobs this week.

Among them is Louise Akester, 36, seen weeping in an online video after she was fired from Alderson House, an NHS care home in Hull.

Concerned about potential long-term side effects from the vaccine, she said: ‘This choice should be my basic human right. I genuinely love my job with all my heart.’

Even before the rule came in, homes were struggling to recruit enough staff and the sector is teetering on the verge of collapse as staff leave for better-paid jobs in supermarkets, retail or hospitality.

It is feared that as many as 500 care homes may have to close in the coming weeks, leaving thousands of vulnerable people in urgent need of new places.

‘So if we get it right, actually, it could be quite a useful spur in some senses to drive the take-up up, but the bit that we just need to be careful of, as I said, is avoiding scapegoating people.’

But he warned that should the NHS and social care lose a ‘significant numbers of staff’ because of the vaccination requirement this would be a ‘real problem’.

He added: ‘The problem for both social care and the NHS is we run these systems incredibly hot on very, very fine margins. Both of us have got around 90 to 100,000 vacancies.

‘We are completely reliant on our staff to… work extra shifts in order to do the work that needs to be done.

‘So losing significant numbers of staff, particularly given the pressure that both of the systems are under at the moment, is a real, real problem.

‘And that’s why we’re very clear with the Government they need to help us manage this risk.’

The Department of Health has refused to comment on the timing of the announcement, which is expected to be made later today. 

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab refused to comment on the reports. He told BBC Breakfast: ‘I don’t comment on leaked reports about what the Government may or may not do, and that’s just not the professional thing for a minister to do.

‘Obviously, we set out our announcements on this in the usual way.

‘I think it’s right to say that we’ve been very mindful of encouraging greater take-up – or maximum take-up if you like – of the vaccination and the boosters to go with it, but not just across the country at large, but particularly in vulnerable settings, like care homes and in the NHS.’

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last month he was ‘leaning towards’ making Covid vaccines compulsory for people working in the NHS.

But health leaders called on him to delay the plans until April to ensure that the health service could get through what is expected to be a very difficult winter.

A consultation on making flu and Covid jabs compulsory for NHS staff was concluded late last month, which ministers considered before deciding on the policy.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock (pictured at Downing Street in March) said yesterday that mandatory jabs for nurses and doctors should be imposed ahead of a 'difficult winter'

Former health secretary Matt Hancock (pictured at Downing Street in March) said yesterday that mandatory jabs for nurses and doctors should be imposed ahead of a ‘difficult winter’

He said: ‘If you look at other nations that have done this, there is no doubt that if you do it carefully, at the point when you announce the fact that you are going to have mandatory vaccinations in the sector, it does provide quite a useful opportunity to then have those kind of further conversations. 

Covid infections on wards kill 11,000 

More than 11,000 patients have caught Covid and died in NHS hospitals while being treated for other illnesses.

Freedom of Information data from NHS trusts in England revealed that 11,688 patients who died in hospital after testing positive for Covid probably caught the virus there. 

This accounted for one in eight Covid deaths in hospital. 

Figures from University Hospitals Birmingham show it recorded as many as 484 deaths of patients who were thought to have caught the virus on wards during the pandemic.

But the hospital trust said it was one of the ‘largest’ in the country and had ‘treated over 18,000 Covid-19 patients… significantly more than any other hospital trust’.

Meanwhile, at four acute NHS trusts, more than a quarter of patients who died with the virus had caught it while in hospital.

And 34 trusts said that one in five patients who had died after a positive Covid test had become infected in their care.

Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust saw 213 patients die after catching Covid on its wards, accounting for a third of all its Covid deaths.

The Countess of Chester said Covid patients made up ‘more than 70 per cent of [its] general and acute beds at one point’ meaning it was ‘one of the most seriously affected trusts in the North of England’.

Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative chairman of the health and social care select committee, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘These numbers are truly shocking… hospital infections have been the deadliest silent killer of the pandemic… It surely strengthens the case for mandatory vaccination for frontline healthcare staff.’

Barbara Keeley, the Labour MP and a member of the health select committee, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘We have to learn the lessons so that scandals like this don’t happen again.’

An NHS spokesman said: ‘Covid-19 hospital infection rates account for less than one per cent of all cases since the pandemic began and cases have reduced significantly since the NHS vaccination rollout.’ 

‘So if we get it right, actually, it could be quite a useful spur in some senses to drive the take-up up, but the bit that we just need to be careful of, as I said, is avoiding scapegoating people.’

Mr Hopson warned that the NHS and the social care sector losing ‘significant numbers of staff’ would be a ‘real problem’.

He said: ‘The problem for both social care and the NHS is we run these systems incredibly hot on very, very fine margins. Both of us have got around 90 to 100,000 vacancies.

‘We are completely reliant on our staff to currently provide you know, work extra shifts in order to do the work that needs to be done. So, you know, losing significant numbers of staff, particularly given the pressure that both of the systems are under at the moment, is a real, real problem. And that’s why we’re very clear with the Government they need to help us manage this risk.’

Mr Hopson also accepted that the risk of Covid infection in hospitals is ‘a problem’ but said the trusts have been working hard to minimise it.

He was asked about a report in The Telegraph newspaper which said more than 11,000 people have caught Covid and died after being admitted to NHS hospitals in England for other reasons.

Mr Hopson told the Today programme: ‘We know that the NHS, like every other health system in the world, has encountered this problem of nosocomial infection, in other words infection in healthcare settings.

‘And that’s precisely why we’ve been working so hard over the last 18 months to ensure that that infection risk is minimised. And that’s why, as I said, we can see the logic of introducing mandatory vaccination if it’s done in a careful and sensible way.

‘I do recognise NHS England’s view that actually it’s very difficult to put a precise number but we’ve known right from the beginning that this is a problem and that’s why trusts have been working so hard to try and minimise the levels of nosocomial infection, because they know it’s a very significant risk.’

It comes after former health secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday that mandatory jabs for nurses and doctors should be imposed ahead of a ‘difficult winter’. 

Mr Hancock, who was responsible for making vaccines mandatory in the care sector, said compulsory vaccination should be ‘in place as fast as possible to save lives’. 

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he added: ‘There are some people who say this isn’t the way we do things in Britain.

‘But we already mandate vaccination against Hepatitis B for doctors. The British historic precedents for compulsory vaccination go back to the 1850s.’

However, health chiefs have warned that this would have devastating unintended consequences and lead to an exodus of hospital staff. 

Professor Peter Openshaw, a scientist advising the Government, said he was against mandatory vaccination.

He told Times Radio: ‘I think the answer is to try to get as much information out as you can – to really try to talk to people on their own terms about why they might be uncertain about whether they should be vaccinated and only absolutely as a last resort should you make it a condition of employment. 

‘But I do think that people should not be working in frontline jobs in contact with vulnerable patients unless they’ve been vaccinated.’ 

Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, Layla Moran MP, added: ‘It would be irresponsible to now implement a policy of mandatory Covid jabs given the unprecedented pressure facing the NHS heading into winter due to a lack of clear government policy.

‘Evidence heard by the APPG on Coronavirus made clear that to now introduce such requirements could further exacerbate staff shortages and risk pushing the NHS over the edge. 

‘This policy is a sign that government has given up on tackling the root cause of sluggish uptake, and risks having devastating unintended consequences.’

It comes after Britain’s social care crisis deepened as it emerged that just 3,000 people replied to a major recruitment drive to tackle staff shortages.

Hundreds of care homes say they may have to close and evict residents amid a potential shortage of 170,000 staff. 

The problem is being made much worse by the new rule insisting that everyone working in the sector must be double-jabbed by Thursday.

Around 60,000 unvaccinated social care staff in England are losing their jobs this week. 

 

 

Among them is Louise Akester, 36, seen weeping in an online video after she was fired from Alderson House, an NHS care home in Hull.

Concerned about potential long-term side effects from the vaccine, she said: ‘This choice should be my basic human right. I genuinely love my job with all my heart.’

Even before the rule came in, homes were struggling to recruit enough staff and the sector is teetering on the verge of collapse as staff leave for better-paid jobs in supermarkets, retail or hospitality.

It is feared that as many as 500 care homes may have to close in the coming weeks, leaving thousands of vulnerable people in urgent need of new places. 

Last week Health Secretary Sajid Javid launched a drive urging the public to apply for social care jobs.

Louise Akester vaccine video

Louise Akester vaccine video

Louise Akester, 36, seen weeping in an online video after she was fired from Alderson House, an NHS care home in Hull. Concerned about potential long-term side effects from the jab, she said: ‘This choice should be my basic human right. I genuinely love my job with all my heart’

But campaigners say only more sociable hours and better pay will fix such acute shortages. 

They point to the failure of a similar campaign in February, which new figures show led to only 3,000 applications.

There are 105,000 social care vacancies in England and the National Care Association says this could rise to 170,000 by the end of the year.

Labour’s care spokesman Liz Kendall said: ‘In the face of over 100,000 vacancies, and with only 3,000 people even expressing an interest in working in care after their last campaign, it’s clear that a TV advertising campaign is totally inadequate to the scale of the task.

‘Hundreds of thousands of elderly and disabled people and their families deserve better.’

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