123,000 unvaccinated NHS and care staff could quit if forced to take jabs

A staggering 123,000 health and social care staff could lose their jobs next spring when mandatory vaccines are brought in.

The health secretary has admitted the decision to require all workers dealing with patients to have had two jabs by April 1 could have a ‘significant impact’ on the health service.

An impact report estimates that by the end of the grace period around 88,000 health workers, including 73,000 NHS staff, and 35,000 social care workers will remain unvaccinated.

The forecast comes as care homes prepare to deal with the fallout of the introduction of the police for the sector tomorrow.

From Thursday, you must be fully protected or have a valid medical exemption in order to keep working with vulnerable people in a care setting.

A report found a similar move for the wider health and social care sector ‘may lead to reduced or delayed services’, with the NHS already facing a record backlog of care and grappling with high vacancy rates.

Estimates included in the document suggest that around 54,000 unvaccinated staff will take up the offer of a jab as a result of the policy.

In a Commons statement, Mr Javid said there was no doubt that health and social care staff ‘carry a unique responsibility’ in the work they do and ‘we must avoid preventable harm’.

He said only those who do not have face-to-face contact with patients or who are medically exempt will not be required to have two doses of a Covid jab, with enforcement of the rule from April 1 next year.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the regulations cover health and social care workers who have direct, face-to-face contact with people while providing care, such as doctors, nurses, dentists and domiciliary care workers.

They will also apply to ancillary staff such as porters or receptionists who may have social contact with patients but are not directly involved in their care.

Acknowledging ‘workforce pressures’ in the NHS, Mr Javid said: ‘Allow me to be clear that no-one in the NHS or care that is currently unvaccinated should be scapegoated, singled out or shamed.

‘That would be totally unacceptable. This is about supporting them to make a positive choice to protect vulnerable people, to protect their colleagues. And of course to protect themselves.’

More than 100,000 people working in the NHS in England remain unvaccinated, the Cabinet member also told MPs.

Overall, some 92.8% of NHS workers have had their first dose and 89.9% have had both doses, while, in social care, 83.7% of domiciliary care workers have had their first dose and 74.6% have had both doses.

Mr Javid said the decision to make jabs mandatory for care home staff meant that the number of people working in care homes who have not had at least one dose had fallen from 88,000 to 32,000 at the start of last month.

According to the Department of Health, 105,000 domiciliary care workers have not been reported as fully vaccinated.

The government impact report also estimates that the ‘cost of replacing unvaccinated workers is £270 million’.

Mr Javid added that flu jabs will not be compulsory, although the issue is being kept under review.

On Tuesday officials in Northern Ireland announced that plans for a public consultation on mandatory Covid-19 and flu vaccination for new recruits to the health and social care workforce in the country.

But the Welsh and Scottish governments are not planning to introduce mandated vaccines for health and social care staff.

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