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It’s a nurse’s duty to be vaccinated, insists chief nursing officer

Chief nurse Ruth May joins Chris Whitty in multidisciplinary appeal to unvaccinated nurses and other staff, asking them to come forward for COVID-19 jabs
nurse receives a coronavirus vaccination from NHS colleague

Chief nurse Ruth May joins Chris Whitty in multidisciplinary appeal to unvaccinated nurses and other staff, asking them to come forward for COVID-19 jabs

England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May – along with Chris Whitty and other health leaders – has told unvaccinated staff it is their professional responsibility to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ruth May, chief medical officer professor Whitty and co-signatories said in a letter to staff it was everyone’s duty to prevent the risk of infection to others ‘as far as possible’.

‘Getting vaccinated against diseases which can be passed person-to-person in healthcare settings is part of that responsibility,’ their letter states.

‘The great majority of healthcare workers have already done

Chief nurse Ruth May joins Chris Whitty in multidisciplinary appeal to unvaccinated nurses and other staff, asking them to come forward for COVID-19 jabs

nurse receives a coronavirus vaccination from NHS colleague
Picture: Alamy

England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May – along with Chris Whitty and other health leaders – has told unvaccinated staff it is their professional responsibility to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ruth May, chief medical officer professor Whitty and co-signatories said in a letter to staff it was everyone’s duty to prevent the risk of infection to others ‘as far as possible’.

‘Getting vaccinated against diseases which can be passed person-to-person in healthcare settings is part of that responsibility,’ their letter states.

‘The great majority of healthcare workers have already done so. We hope those of you who have not will consider doing so now.’

Reasonable expectation of patients

The letter said that professional responsibility was different from a legal mandate, adding patients can ‘reasonably expect’ healthcare staff to have had their jabs.

Chief nursing officer Ruth May Picture: Barney Newman

The message follows a government change of heart on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for nurses and other front-line health and care staff in England.

All patient-facing NHS staff had faced a legal requirement to have two doses of the COVID-19 jab by 1 April. Staff in social care had been subject to the policy since November 2021.

Nurses and health unions said the government’s U-turn was too late for healthcare staff who had already lost their job. They called for sacked staff to be reinstated and compensated.

Vaccine mandate ‘no longer appropriate’

RCN director of England Patricia Marquis said: ‘To risk thousands more nursing staff being sacked in the middle of a staffing crisis was never in the interests of patients’ safety.’

Speaking in the Commons last week, health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said the policy was ‘no longer proportionate’ as the Omicron variant of coronavirus has less severe symptoms than the previous Delta strain. But he reiterated he thought it the professional duty of NHS staff to be vaccinated.


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