No jab no job: Over 120,000 healthcare workers could quit over mandatory Covid vaccine

10 November 2021, 00:42 | Updated: 10 November 2021, 08:21

According to Government estimates, as many as 123,000 healthcare workers could refuse the Covid-19 vaccine
According to Government estimates, as many as 123,000 healthcare workers could refuse the Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

The health and social care sector is facing a huge staff shortage with more than 120,000 people estimated to lose their job over new mandatory vaccine rules.

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On Tuesday the Health Secretary announced vaccines would be compulsory for all NHS and social care workers in England by April 1.

According to Government estimates, as many as 123,000 healthcare workers could refuse the Covid-19 vaccine despite the fact they face unemployment.

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 of a Covid jab, with enforcement of the rule from April 1 next year.

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Speaking in the House of Commons today, Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed that around 103,000 NHS workers are currently unvaccinated.

It is estimated of the 103,000 only 30,000 will receive the vaccine potentially leaving 73,000 NHS roles empty.

It raises concerns about the NHS backlog and pressures facing the health care sector with the impact report stating the rule "may lead to reduced or delayed services" adding the "cost of replacing unvaccinated workers is £270 million".

'It risks the collapse of care companies'

Whilst in the care sector, the number of unvaccinated staff has fallen from 88,000 to 32,000 amid the compulsory vaccine rule coming into force on Thursday, November 11.

Care home union Unison has called on the government to push back the deadline for care home workers to get their vaccine, fearing the 'no jab, no job' policy "risks the collapse of care companies".

The union says the care sector is "already facing a staffing catastrophe", stating the loss of 32,000 unvaccinated workers adds to an existing 105,000 unfilled vacancies in care homes.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: "Care home employers warned of the dire consequences of a draconian approach. The staffing crisis will become a catastrophe for a sector already on its knees.

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"Some homes may have to close if care staff are barred from their jobs. The upheaval and distress caused to many elderly residents and their families would be disastrous.

"Forcing the vaccine on care staff is an own goal by the government. Take-up rates will only increase with persuasion, not punishment."

NHS union Unite added: "The NHS is already seeing a severe 'recruitment and retention' crisis with an estimated 90,000 vacancies and imposing a regime of mandatory vaccination will just exacerbate this crisis as we go into a very difficult winter for the health service with an exhausted staff still battling the continuing 21-month-old pandemic."