Compulsory Covid jabs for all frontline health staff being considered by the Government

9 September 2021, 08:32

A consultation is being launched on plans to make the Covid vaccine mandatory for health and social care staff.
A consultation is being launched on plans to make the Covid vaccine mandatory for health and social care staff. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A six-week consultation on plans to make the Covid vaccine mandatory for all frontline health and care staff has been announced by the Government.

It will take views on whether the jab should be made compulsory for those in contact with patients and people receiving care.

If the plans get the go ahead, it will mean only those who are fully vaccinated, unless medically exempt, could be deployed to deliver health and care services.

All staff working in registered care homes in England must already be fully vaccinated by November 11, unless exempt.

As well as care home staff, anyone entering a care home, such as healthcare professionals, CQC inspectors, tradespeople, hairdressers and beauticians, must have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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However, friends and relatives of the care home resident remain exempt from the regulations, as well as residents themselves, members of the emergency services and those offering bereavement support.

But the care industry has previously expressed concern over the impact mandatory vaccines will have on staffing levels and recruitment, and there are fears this could be seen if the requirement is rolled out more widely across the health system.

Last month, the Institute of Health and Social Care Management (IHSCM) surveyed more than 1,000 care managers.

The survey found that nine in 10 managers said their workplace was experiencing staff shortages or having difficulty recruiting.

The Government's new consultation will look at the possibility of extending the double vaccine requirement to those working on the frontline in health and care settings.

Read more: James O'Brien ponders mandatory vaccines and 'no jab no job' policies

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Around 92% of NHS trust staff have received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with 88% of staff having received both doses, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) Social Care Working Group has already advised the overlap between the sectors makes a strong scientific case for there to be similar approaches to vaccination.

Read more: SAGE scientists say clear messaging 'key to make sure people stick to rules after jab'

The DHSC said the consultation would focus on the proposals, their scope, and any potential impact mandating vaccines could have on staffing and safety such as reducing staff sickness absence.

The process will also seek views on whether flu vaccines should be treated in the same way.

Staff, healthcare providers, stakeholders, patients and their families are being urged to take part, with a final decision expected this winter.

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Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged all health and social care staff to be vaccinated, regardless of the outcome of the consultation.

He said: "Many patients being treated in hospitals and other clinical settings are most at risk of suffering serious consequences of Covid-19, and we must do what we can to protect them.

"It's so clear to see the impact vaccines have against respiratory viruses which can be fatal to the vulnerable, and that's why we're exploring mandatory vaccines for both Covid-19 and flu.

"We will consider the responses to the consultation carefully but, whatever happens, I urge the small minority of NHS staff who have not yet been jabbed to consider getting vaccinated - for their own health as well as those around them."

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