Mandatory vaccination for frontline NHS and social care workers in England from April 1st 2022, says Sajid Javid

All those working in the NHS and social care will have to be vaccinated, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has told MPs.

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The Government has announced mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for frontline NHS staff in England, with a deadline of 1st April 2022 for both doses.

All those working in the NHS and social care will have to be vaccinated, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has told MPs.

Making a Covid-19 update statement in the Commons, Mr Javid said: “Having considered the consultation responses, the advice of my officials and NHS leaders including the chief executive of the NHS, I have concluded that all those working in the NHS and social care will have to be vaccinated.

“We must avoid preventable harm and protect patients in the NHS, protect colleagues in the NHS and of course protect the NHS itself.”

Sajid Javid said: “We head into the winter months in a much stronger position than last year. Of all the reasons for this progress the greatest is unquestionably our vaccination programme.

“Across the UK the overwhelming majority of us have made the positive choice to accept the offer of vaccines against Covid-19, almost eight in every 10 people over the age of 12 have chosen to be double jabbed and over 10 million people have now received their boosters or third jabs.”

He added: “The latest figures show that 90% of NHS staff have received at least two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, although in some trusts the figure is closer to 80%.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs the decision to make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory for NHS staff does not mean the Government does not recognise concerns about “workforce pressures” this winter.

He said: “It’s with this in mind that we’ve chosen for the condition not to come into force until 12 weeks after parliamentary approval, allowing time for remaining colleagues to make the positive choice to protect themselves of those around them, and time for workforce planning.”

Mr Javid also noted the Government will not introduce any requirement on flu jabs at this stage, but “we will keep this under review”.

He added: “Allow me to be clear that no one in the NHS or care that is currently unvaccinated should be scapegoated, singled out or shamed. That would be totally unacceptable.

“This is about supporting them to make a positive choice to protect vulnerable people, to protect their colleagues. And of course to protect themselves.”

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

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said that if mandatory vaccination for NHS staff is approached in the right way it could actually result in a rise in the take-up of jabs.

He said there are between 80,000 and 100,000 NHS workers in England who are unvaccinated against coronavirus and he expects a Government announcement on the issue “today”.

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.

“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 … 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.”

Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister 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.”

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.

Latest figures from NHS England show that almost a quarter (23.3%) 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.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “The NHS has more than enough on its plate without the Government adding more to its to-do list.

“Vaccination rates are already high across the NHS. Instead of compulsion, ministers should be looking at redoubling their efforts to boost voluntary take-up, which is already more than 90%.

“Mandatory jabs in social care have prompted an unprecedented staffing crisis.

“The Government should be careful not to make the same mistake twice. It should also consider practical alternatives like daily testing.”