Nursing union reacts to mandatory vaccines for frontline NHS staff

Nurses get ready to vaccinate another nurse in Belfast, Northern Ireland

According to the Department of Health, 103,000 people working in the NHS in England remain unvaccinated - Credit: PA

Frontline NHS worker representatives in Suffolk have reacted to the government's decision to introduce mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for staff. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Tuesday that frontline NHS workers and social care staff would need to be fully vaccinated to continue in their jobs from April 1 next year.

Anyone without medical exemption and in direct contact with people while providing care will be required to have two doses, said Mr Javid.

The decision applies to health and wider social care settings regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and includes  doctors, nurses, dentists and domiciliary care workers.

The Department of Health and Social Care said it would also apply to ancillary staff, such as porters or receptionists, who may have contact with patients but no direct involvement in care.

Mr Javid told MPs the decision must not lead to the unvaccinated being scapegoated, singled out or shamed, adding: "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 this Thursday.

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According to the Department of Health, 103,000 people working in the NHS in England remain unvaccinated.

Overall, 89.9% of NHS workers and 74.6% of domiciliary care workers have received both doses.

The regional branch of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the vast majority of staff received the vaccine as soon as it was offered, having led the vaccination rollout and booster programme.

Chief executive Pat Cullen added: “With the five months until this decision takes effect, the government and employers must continue to engage with the small minority who have chosen not to have the vaccine. This is vital to understanding their concerns, supporting them to understand the importance of the vaccine and to make that important choice."

Meanwhile, West Suffolk MP and former Health Secretary, Matt Hancock appeared to voice support for mandatory flu vaccines, which his successor said would not yet go ahead but would be kept under review.

Mr Hancock welcomed the decision on Covid-19 vaccinations, and said: "I also support the extension of this to flu in due course, and I'm glad that the Secretary of State is keeping that open. I would urge him to continue to push on that as soon as it practicable."