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Making jabs for nurses compulsory will be sabotage, says RCN

College joins demands for delay in making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for front-line NHS staff in England from April amid current staffing pressures
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College joins demands for delay in making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for front-line NHS staff in England from April amid current staffing pressures

The RCN has joined calls to delay mandatory vaccinations for NHS staff in England, telling health and social care secretary Sajid Javid that it would be ‘self-sabotage’ during the staffing crisis.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said the college supported vaccinations but current staffing pressures, along with 40,000 nursing vacancies and tens of thousands of absences related to COVID-19, mean that patient safety was being compromised.

She said: ‘Nothing matters more to a nurse than caring for their patients safely. Right now, our members are telling me they can’t always do that. We are calling on the government to recognise this risk and

College joins demands for delay in making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for front-line NHS staff in England from April amid current staffing pressures

Picture shows phials of vaccine for COVID-19
Picture: Alamy

The RCN has joined calls to delay mandatory vaccinations for NHS staff in England, telling health and social care secretary Sajid Javid that it would be ‘self-sabotage’ during the staffing crisis.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said the college supported vaccinations but current staffing pressures, along with 40,000 nursing vacancies and tens of thousands of absences related to COVID-19, mean that patient safety was being compromised.

She said: ‘Nothing matters more to a nurse than caring for their patients safely. Right now, our members are telling me they can’t always do that. We are calling on the government to recognise this risk and delay a move which by its own calculations looks to backfire. To dismiss valued nursing staff during this crisis would be an act of self-sabotage.’

RCN joins the Royal College of Midwives and TUC in calling for delay

The RCN joins the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and TUC in calling for a delay in implementing the policy amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, multiple hospitals declaring critical incidents and rising staff absences.

The RCM said it fears that implementing mandatory vaccinations and the subsequent loss of unvaccinated staff ‘could plunge maternity services and the wider NHS into meltdown’.

Instead, unions say nursing staff should be provided with high grade PPE and priority testing to avoid them catching the virus and decreasing the number of staff unable to work due to isolation.

Tory MPs have also urged the government to rethink the strategy given current knowledge of the Omicron variant.

Estimated 73,000 NHS staff could be lost when jabs become mandatory

New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne said the government should address the ‘policy of sacking NHS staff who aren’t vaccinated’, adding that the rationale for mandatory jabs ‘disappears because it doesn’t stop you catching it and it doesn’t stop you from infecting others’.

Around 73,000 NHS staff could be lost when mandatory jabs become a condition of working for patient-facing NHS staff on 1 April, according to the government’s own impact assessment.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the mandatory vaccination policy would not be delayed. A spokesperson said: ‘This is about patient safety and ensuring people in hospital or care have as much protection as possible. Vaccinations remain our best defence against COVID-19.’


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