The TUC has called for the government to delay the introduction of mandatory vaccinations for NHS workers in bid to avert a staffing crisis. COVID-19 vaccinations are due to become mandatory for anyone deployed by a registered person delivering Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated activities who has direct, face-to-face contact with service users.This includes health and care staff with clinical and non-clinical roles, for example: care workers, health care assistants, nurses, paramedics, ODPs, receptionists, managers, ward clerks, porters and cleaners.
NHS England data shows 39,142 NHS staff at hospital trusts in England were absent for Covid-19 reasons on January 2, up 59% on the previous week (24,632) and more than three times the number at the start of December (12,508). The TUC warns introduction of the mandatory vaccination policy will exacerbate this crisis, creating a bureaucratic and staffing nightmare for NHS Trusts and making it impossible to maintain safe staffing levels in the coming weeks. And the union body strongly urges everyone who isn’t medically exempt to get vaccinated and boosted, and for ministers to make that as easy for whole NHS staff team.
The union body says ministers must:
Delay with immediate effect mandatory vaccination as a condition of deployment in the NHS.
Prioritise access to lateral flow and PCR tests for more key workers in health and other vital public services. This should reach more than the current proposal for just 100,000 ‘critical workers’ and must include outsourced NHS workers such as porters and cleaners.
Ensure NHS staff health and safety with access to high quality PPE and workplaces that are properly ventilated to minimise transmission and infection.
Opposition to strong arm tactics
Key unions representing health care workers have previously spoken out against mandatory vaccination, calling for a focus on persuasion instead of coercion. Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary, said:
“GMB’s position is consistent: we are opposed to legally enforced medical procedures as a condition of employment – it’s heavy-handed and will deepen the health service’s devastating staff black hole.
“Our union has encouraged take up of the vaccine and booster jabs, but the government needs to look beyond strong-arm tactics.”
Unison have said:
“UNISON supports vaccination in health and social care. The vaccine is safe, and we encourage all members who do not have a medical exemption to get their jab. But vaccination should be your decision and the UK government should promote persuasion and reassurance. We have made arguments that this will result in people leaving health and care jobs, putting pressure on already stretched services.”
Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity said:
“The vast majority of NHS staff are vaccinated. These bully-boy tactics are unnecessary. We support the position of our brothers and sisters in other unions such as the GMB, UNISON and FBU on this.“
SIGN THE PETITION
Click this link to sign the petition “Prohibit employers from requiring staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19”: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/599841