After the government planned to make vaccines against coronavirus mandatory for all NHS staff in England, it has been announced in reports that Number 10 may do a U-turn on the jab or dismiss mandate.
Government ministers are set to meet to discuss scrapping the proposed plans that would see NHS staff in England be redeployed or dismissed from their roles if they did not, and continue to refuse to take any Covid-19 vaccines.
At present, front-line workers in England must be fully vaccinated by Friday, April 1, which also means that they have until Thursday this week to have had their first dose.
How many NHS staff are against Covid-19 vaccines?
At least 77,000 NHS staff have not had any vaccines despite working in the field. There are 1.4 million staff of NHS employees in the whole of the UK.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that it is the “duty” of NHS staff to get vaccinated but that they will keep the new requirement under review. The UK Health Security Agency has also said that the mandate is “the right thing to do to protect patients”.
The requirement was introduced at the time that the Delta variant emerged and became most prominent. Evidence at the time showed that taking the vaccine would cut chances of transmission in catching and spreading the virus.
What are the problems of the NHS jab mandate?
The government has faced pressure from NHS staff to scrap their requirement for all NHS staff in England to be fully vaccinated due to fears that it would lead to a staff crisis.
With the 77,000 number of staff without a vaccine in the NHS, the health service would suffer a huge loss in employees and number of helping hands at a time of need as the pandemic fares on. At present, there are approximately 100,000 vacancies within the NHS meaning that the service needs more employees, not fewer.
The Royal College of Midwives also said that the government’s policy could have a “catastrophic impact” on maternity services. The Royal College of GPs and Royal College of Nursing has asked for the deadline of Friday 1 April to be delayed.
What are the current Covid-19 rules for NHS staff in England?
The latest coronavirus rules and precautions for NHS staff in England are as follows since December 2021.
If an NHS staff member develops any Covid-19 symptoms, regardless of how mild, then they should:
Follow the stay at home guidance and take a PCR test either through workplace arrangements or the Test and Trace service
If at home (off-duty), they should not attend work while waiting for their PCR test result and should notify their employer or line manager immediately
If at work, they should inform their employer or line manager and return home as soon as possible
If they receive a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result, they must self-isolate for 10 days
If their self-reported SARS-CoV-2 LFD antigen test result is positive, they should self-isolate immediately and arrange to have a follow-up PCR test as soon as possible, through workplace arrangements or the Test and Trace service. They should continue to self-isolate while waiting for their PCR test result – if this follow-up is positive, they continue to self-isolate
If you receive a negative PCR test, then you can return to work if you are medically fit and able to do so.
If a staff member does not have any symptoms but has a positive PCR test result, then they must stay at home and self-isolate.
If a staff member is in contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid-19, then:
- They must stay at home and self-isolate if not fully vaccinated
If they are fully vaccinated, have received two vaccine doses and are 14 days post second vaccination, then they should arrange a PCR test and can return to work if it is confirmed negative and must complete daily lateral flow tests before attending work each day for 10 days. (It is advised to seek a repeat PCR if any LFD tests come back positive.) If the test is positive, then isolate for 10 days.