Sajid Javid admits NHS mandatory vaccines will add to worrying staff shortages

10 November 2021, 09:30 | Updated: 10 November 2021, 15:48

Sajid Javid addressed concerns over NHS staff shortages
Sajid Javid addressed concerns over NHS staff shortages. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has admitted mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for NHS frontline workers will add to already worrying staff shortages.

However, he told LBC's Nick Ferrari it was essential to protect vulnerable hospital patients.

Mr Javid announced on Tuesday that jabs would be compulsory for all NHS and social care workers in England by April 1.

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But according to estimates, more than 70,000 healthcare workers could refuse to comply, adding to existing staff shortages.

Mr Javid said: "It will make what is already a challenging situation perhaps even more important for us."

But he insisted: "This is about patient safety and again if someone said look why don't you just keep anyone who's unvaccinated on in hospitals and that will help with the overall workforce challenges then you'd be saying 'why don’t you just keep people on, that are going around spreading a virus, when it could have been prevented'."

He added: "People are in hospital, they are ill, they are vulnerable and they need to be protected in every way that they can."

The minister described the situation around the vaccination rollout as "unprecedented", adding: "What I’m interested in is working with all of those people, having the NHS and others reach out to them, and help them in coming to make a positive decision."

The Department of Health and Social Care said the regulations will cover health and social care workers who have direct, face-to-face contact with people while providing care, such as doctors, nurses, dentists and domiciliary care workers. 

They will also apply to ancillary staff such as porters or receptionists who may have social contact with patients but are not directly involved in their care. 

Only those who do not have face-to-face contact with patients or who are medically exempt will not be required to have two doses.

Mr Javid said the positive effects of such a programme can be seen in France and also in mandating jabs in England's care homes.

He said: "If you look at France for example they made a similar decision for their health system back in July and at that point 60% were vaccinated... and now it's 99%.

"Also we've seen with a similar decision we've made in care homes, that was made earlier in the summer, that becomes effective enforcement later this week, we've seen in care homes the number of unvaccinated people has fallen from 80,000-ish to about 30,000.

"That's almost a two thirds reduction so I hope this decision will encourage more and more unvaccinated people to make that positive choice and get vaccinated."

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