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Jab is no longer mandatory for nurses and other front-line staff

COVID-19 vaccination won’t be a condition of employment in health and care settings after all, with April deadline scrapped to allow for consultation
Sajid Javid

COVID-19 vaccination won’t be a condition of employment in health and care settings after all, with April deadline scrapped to allow for consultation

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that COVID-19 vaccinations will no longer be mandatory for nurses and other front-line health and care staff in England.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday Mr Javid said the government would be launching a consultation on ending vaccination as a condition of employment in all health and care settings. All patient-facing NHS staff had faced a requirement to have both doses of the COVID-19 jab by 1 April.

Mr Javid reiterated previous comments that it was the ‘professional duty’ of NHS staff

COVID-19 vaccination won’t be a condition of employment in health and care settings after all, with April deadline scrapped to allow for consultation

Sajid Javid speaking in the House of Commons. Picture: Parliament TV

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that COVID-19 vaccinations will no longer be mandatory for nurses and other front-line health and care staff in England.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday Mr Javid said the government would be launching a consultation on ending vaccination as a condition of employment in all health and care settings. All patient-facing NHS staff had faced a requirement to have both doses of the COVID-19 jab by 1 April.

Mr Javid reiterated previous comments that it was the ‘professional duty’ of NHS staff to have the vaccinations but conceded that the policy risked deepening workforce pressures as some healthcare workers ‘would not do the responsible thing and choose to remain unvaccinated’.

Mr Javid said: ‘Despite it being their choice to leave their jobs, we have to consider the impact on the workforce in NHS and social care settings, especially at a time when we already have a shortage of workers.’

He has asked NHS England to review its policy on the ‘hiring of new staff and deployment of existing staff taking into account their vaccination status’.

Mandatory jabs seen as no longer proportionate because Omicron is a milder variant

He said the policy for mandatory jabs was ‘right’ at the time when the Delta was the dominant variant in the UK, but was no longer proportionate because Omicron is a milder variant.

The health secretary had been under increasing pressure from NHS staff and health unions, including the RCN, to scrap the policy amid fears it would compound the current staffing crisis.

Front-line workers would have needed to have their first dose of the vaccine by Thursday 3 February in order to meet the deadline of having both doses by 1 April.

Last week Mr Javid denied that the policy would be postponed but said it was being kept under review.

Latest figures from NHS England show that 127,515 NHS and domiciliary care staff working in registered settings had not had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of 23 January. Mr Javid told the Commons that 19 out of every 20 NHS staff had now been vaccinated.

According to the government’s own impact report published in November, the mandatory vaccination policy could have seen up to 73,000 members of staff redeployed or sacked in April.


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