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31st Jan 2022

Mandatory covid jabs for health workers could be scrapped amid staffing fears

Ava Evans

A government U-turn is expected this week

Plans to mandate covid vaccinations for all NHS and social care workers could be scrapped amid warnings of potentially crippling staff shortages.

Speaking to Sky News on Monday morning, government minister Simon Clarke said ministers were considering ending the requirement because the omicron covid variant is milder than previous strains of the virus.

Clarke said: “Any decision that’s taken this week will reflect that reality.

“I can’t prejudge the decision that is going to be made but obviously we do recognise those realities and that does open a space where we can look at this again.”

Compulsory vaccination for social care staff came into effect in November at the cost of 40,000 members of staff.

If the government were to pursue mandatory covid jabs for NHS staff by April, an astonishing 80,000 could be forced out of their jobs – placing immense pressure on an already strained health service.

The jab requirement for NHS workers was meant to come into force in April meaning this Thursday, February 3 would be the last day that staff could get their first jab in order to be double – and fully – vaccinated in time.

The Royal College of Nursing has welcomed reports of a potential government climbdown on mandatory vaccination.

In a statement, the college’s Director for England said: “If these reports are correct, this climbdown by government is long overdue. Vaccination is hugely important but this was the wrong policy, especially as it added to the current pressure on NHS and care services.

“It was never in the interests of patient safety to threaten tens of thousands with dismissal in the middle of staffing crisis.

“We will continue to support government and employers to make the case for vaccination.”

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