Covid vaccines 'to be mandatory for frontline NHS staff in England'

9 November 2021, 09:59 | Updated: 9 November 2021, 10:30

The Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be mandatory for frontline NHS staff
The Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be mandatory for frontline NHS staff. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Covid-19 vaccines will be mandatory for frontline NHS staff in England, the Government is expected announce.

The move would affect tens of thousands of unvaccinated staff, with a deadline of next spring likely for both doses.

NHS officials have said they expect the move to happen, with a government announcement on the issue set to take place today.

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There are between 80,000 and 100,000 NHS workers in England who are unvaccinated against coronavirus.

Care home workers in England have already been told they must be fully vaccinated by the deadline of this Thursday.

It is unclear whether the new announcement will include hundreds of thousands of social care staff - outside of care homes - who are yet to be fully vaccinated.

NHS Providers chief executive, Chris Hopson, told the BBC similar programmes in other counties show "if we get it right" it could "drive the take-up" but added "the bit that we just need to be careful of... is avoiding scapegoating people".

He warned 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... 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."

Latest figures from NHS England show that almost a quarter (24.3%) of staff working in younger adult care homes and domiciliary care providers have not been reported as having had both jabs as of October 31.

This is a total of 116,871 staff.

In addition, three-quarters of staff working in other social care settings outside of care homes, including non-registered providers and those employed by local authorities, have had their first jab.

But only about a third were doubled jabbed as of October 31, with 383,760 staff in these settings not doubly vaccinated or reported as so at this point.

Tens of thousands of care home staff were not recorded as having been double jabbed as of October 31, meaning they are set to lose their jobs this week, according to the NHS figures.

Some 60,964 staff had not had a second jab reported as of the end of October, with several thousand of these understood to have self-certified as exempt or applied for official proof.

Care groups have called for the mandatory vaccine policy to be axed or delayed so providers can get through winter challenges without more staff leaving.

It comes as a former care worker shared an emotional video this week after she lost her job because she did not want to get vaccinated against coronavirus.

Louise Akester, who has reportedly worked in the care sector for 14 years, shared the tearful video from her car after completing her final shift.