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Unvaccinated nurses: declining a COVID jab is not an NMC issue

Nurse regulator emphasises unvaccinated status is not grounds for fitness to practise proceedings, but repeats call on employers to address reasons behind any vaccine-hesitancy
Nurse ponders issues of COVID vaccination for healthcare staff

Nurse regulator emphasises unvaccinated status is not grounds for fitness to practise proceedings, but repeats call on employers to address reasons behind any vaccine-hesitancy

The nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has reaffirmed that nurses declining COVID-19 vaccination will not face the threat of a fitness to practise process but has ‘strongly encouraged’ those who are unvaccinated to get the jab.

Chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said nurses should ensure their practice is in line with the best available evidence, which points to being fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

Nursess’ personal responsibility to minimise risk to others

‘Our Code and our standards have always made clear that professionals have a responsibility to maintain their own level of health, taking

Nurse regulator emphasises unvaccinated status is not grounds for fitness to practise proceedings, but repeats call on employers to address reasons behind any vaccine-hesitancy

A nurse ponders the issue of COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare professionals
Picture: iStock

The nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has reaffirmed that nurses declining COVID-19 vaccination will not face the threat of a fitness to practise process but has ‘strongly encouraged’ those who are unvaccinated to get the jab.

Chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said nurses should ensure their practice is in line with the best available evidence, which points to being fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

Nursess’ personal responsibility to minimise risk to others

‘Our Code and our standards have always made clear that professionals have a responsibility to maintain their own level of health, taking all reasonable personal precautions to avoid potential health risks to colleagues and people receiving care,’ she said.

‘Employers should work collaboratively with professionals who are seeking more information or support around vaccination. We do not consider that solely turning down COVID-19 vaccinations is a basis for a fitness to practise referral.’

Ms Sutcliffe has previously said it is the responsibility of employers to address concerns about unvaccinated staff.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said the clarification will allay fears of a ‘small minority’ of nurses who are yet to get vaccinated.

‘Employers should continue to engage with those nursing staff who have not yet had it, understanding their concerns and supporting them to make an informed choice,’ she added.

The comments come as England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May, chief medical officer Chris Witty and other health leaders told unvaccinated staff it is their professional duty to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a letter to NHS staff in England they said: ‘Getting vaccinated against diseases that can be passed person-to-person in healthcare settings is part of that responsibility.’

Government’s change of plan for vaccine mandate

Until last month all patient-facing NHS staff in England were facing a deadline of 1 April to have had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. But following pressure from health unions and backbenchers the government backed down on its vaccine mandate.

A consultation on ending the mandatory jab legislation began on 9 February and its outcome will apply to the NHS and England’s care sector, where mandatory coronavirus vaccination was first introduced.


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