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U-turn expected on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for nurses

Milder Omicron and worries over staff shortage convince government to pull back from making vaccinations mandatory for front-line workers, reports say
Picture shows a close-up of someone being vaccinated

Milder Omicron and worries over staff shortage convince government to pull back from making vaccinations mandatory for front-line workers, reports say

The government is expected to announce a U-turn on mandatory vaccinations for nurses and other front-line health and social care workers, according to reports.

The health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has been under pressure to scrap the requirement for staff to get the COVID-19 jab in England amid fears it will compound the current staffing crisis.

Mr Javid will meet ministers on the COVID-Operations Cabinet committee later today to confirm the U-turn, according to the Daily Telegraph . The newspaper said the government is ending the policy because Omicron is milder than previous variants.

    Milder Omicron and worries over staff shortage convince government to pull back from making vaccinations mandatory for front-line workers, reports say

    Picture shows a close-up of someone being vaccinated
    Picture: Alamy

    The government is expected to announce a U-turn on mandatory vaccinations for nurses and other front-line health and social care workers, according to reports.

    The health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has been under pressure to scrap the requirement for staff to get the COVID-19 jab in England amid fears it will compound the current staffing crisis.

    Mr Javid will meet ministers on the COVID-Operations Cabinet committee later today to confirm the U-turn, according to the Daily Telegraph. The newspaper said the government is ending the policy because Omicron is milder than previous variants.

    RCN director for England Patricia Marquis said while vaccinations were ‘hugely important’ the policy for them to be mandatory was wrong given the current staffing pressures on the NHS.

    She said: ‘If these reports are correct, this climbdown by government is long overdue. It was never in the interests of patient safety to threaten tens of thousands with dismissal in the middle of a staffing crisis.

    ‘We will continue to support government and employers to make the case for vaccination.’

    Currently, front-line workers need 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.

    Thousands of people including NHS doctors and nurses took to the streets to protest the policy

    The RCN, along with the Royal College of GPs and the TUC, have previously called on the government to push back the deadline.

    Last week Mr Javid denied that the policy would be postponed but said it was being kept under review. He added that front-line NHS staff should get a Covid-19 jab as a ‘professional duty’.

    As the deadline to have the jab draws closer, thousands of people took to the streets to protest the policy, with many NHS doctors and nurses laying down uniforms in Trafalgar Square earlier this month.

    Backbench MPs have also called for the policy to be delayed, amid fears that it could force thousands of front-line workers to leave their roles at a time when patient demand is high.

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


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