Hancock confirms plan to make Covid vaccines necessary for all NHS and caregivers

Matt Hancock has confirmed that Covid vaccination should be a condition of employment for nursing home workers and that the government will consult a similar rule for NHS workers.

The Health Minister informed MPs of the move, despite opposition from Labor, trade unions and others who fear it could prove counterproductive.

In the House of Commons, Hancock said, “The vast majority of nursing home workers are already vaccinated, but not all, and we know that the vaccine not only protects you, but also those around you.

“That is why we will push ahead with the measures to ensure the mandate as a condition of action for the staff in nursing homes and consult in the NHS on the same approach to save lives and protect patients from disease.”

He added that he would now advise whether all health care workers, including those in the NHS and home care workers, should be subject to similar rules.

“The principle of dependent vaccination is already anchored and in fact there is more than a century of history of requiring vaccination in certain circumstances and I think these are reasonable circumstances.

“So we’re going to move on for those who work in nursing homes, and we’re going to consult for those in home care and the NHS.”

He added that he had no broader proposals to make vaccinations compulsory for the public, but said the state had a lesser “duty” to those who refused to be stung.

Former Secretary Steve Baker suggested that caregivers should have the right to choose between the vaccine or daily lateral flow tests, but Hancock replied, “It’s a question of risk and we know the vaccine clearly shows that risk reduced.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said no MPs vote was required to pass the change. “I don’t think that will be voted on in Parliament,” he said.

England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said that doctors and nurses have a “professional responsibility” to protect their patients, just as they already have a “duty” to get vaccinated for hepatitis B.

But the backlash against introducing effective Covid vaccination for nursing home workers was starting in grave, with some in the industry warning that it could make it harder to attract much-needed workers and lead to some layoffs.

The GMB union claimed that more than a third of nurses would consider leaving their jobs if vaccinations became compulsory.

Overall, the NHS figures as of June 6 show that 84% of staff in nursing homes in England received one dose of vaccine and nearly 69% received both vaccinations.

However, the data shows that in Hackney, east London, for example, only 66.7% of employees in nursing homes received their first dose, while only 58.6% of employees in the district received both doses.

Dr. Susan Hopkins, Director of Strategic Response to Covid-19 at Public Health England, told MPs, “People can vote with their feet and don’t want the vaccine and therefore not work in a nursing home, which could result in staffing.” Problems in Nursing Homes “.

She told the Science and Technology Committee, “I will continue to be a little concerned that once we get the mandate we will have a shortage of nurses, but I’m sure the vast majority of nurses want to do the right thing and get vaccinated to protect the elderly in their care. “

Research released last month by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) found that black African and mixed black African workers were almost twice as likely to refuse a vaccination as white British and white Irish participants.

Reasons included concerns about a lack of research and distrust of vaccines, health care providers and policy makers.

Unison General Secretary Christina McAnea said: “The only way out of the pandemic is for everyone who can to get their jabs. Encouragement has the best results, and research shows that coercion reduces the likelihood of vaccination.

“The government proposal now runs the risk of some caregivers simply leaving an already understaffed, undervalued and underpaid sector.”

Rachel Harrison, GMB’s National Representative, said, “The government could do a lot to support nurses: adjusting their wages and conditions, increasing the rate and access to contractual sick pay, banning zero hours and ensuring more mobile NHS vaccination teams to help those who work night shifts can get the bump.

“Instead, ministers are pushing plans to get nurses with strong arms to take the vaccine without taking seriously the massive obstacles these workers still face when they are stung.”

Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group (ICG), which represents nursing homes in Yorkshire, said “this will deter people from entering the service”.

“The second problem is people who are already on duty and may not want the vaccine. We’re so overwhelmed for frontline employees. It sounds easy to redeploy, but it isn’t easy to replace when you redeploy. And I think people will be scared off. “

Gateshead Public Health Director Alice Wiseman told Times Radio she supported the move, saying, “This is a really difficult decision because no one ever wants to take away any individual’s right to choose.

“But we are making some vaccines mandatory in other areas of health. For example, we make sure that all surgeons have the hepatitis B vaccine, and it’s really important that we do this in order to protect the people we care for. “

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