Frontline NHS workers and their representatives have reacted to the Government’s decision to introduce mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for its staff.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the union Unite have called for persuasion rather than a heavy hand when implementing the measure.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said that persuasion and not coercion was the best way to drive up vaccination rates, while the RCN believes that support and education would be more effective in increasing uptake across health and care staff.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that frontline NHS workers and social care staff need to be fully vaccinated to continue their jobs from 1 April next year.
Anyone without medical exemption and in direct contact with people while providing care will be required to have two doses, said Mr Javid.
Following proper procedures
The move has raised concerns that the mandate could create legal risks in the NHS and other industries over potential discrimination in disability, maternity, religion or unfair dismissal.
The mandate applies to health and wider social care settings regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and includes doctors, nurses, dentists and domiciliary care workers.
According to the Department of Health, 103,000 people working in the NHS in England remain unvaccinated.
COVID-19 vaccines have already been made compulsory for staff working in care homes in England, with a deadline of 11 November.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have not yet made vaccines compulsory for NHS workers or care home staff. Welsh ministers have announced that they will not make vaccines mandatory.
The latest data on NHS workforce vaccination shows that 93 per cent have received their first dose, 90 per cent have received two doses.