Omicron cases are on the rise. It is important to protect the NHS and take steps to reduce the spread of Omicron.

It is because there is sufficient NHS staff to provide treatment for those who are in need.

Why is it that so many NHS staff are not up to date with their vaccinations?

On December 12, the Prime Minister launched an ‘urgent national appeal’ calling on Britons to ‘get boosted now … to protect ourselves and the NHS’ against the coming ‘tidal wave’ of the Omicron Covid variant.

However, many of the millions of people who responded would be surprised to find out that some of the bodies representing NHS medical staff are against mandatory vaccinations.

As we face a rising tide of Omicron cases, much has been made of the importance of protecting the NHS and taking steps to minimise the spread. This is so that there are enough NHS staff to cope with the people who need hospital treatment. So why, then, are so many NHS healthcare workers unvaccinated?

Omicron cases are on the rise. It is important to protect the NHS and take steps to reduce the spread of Omicron. So that the NHS can provide treatment for all patients, there is enough staff. Why is there such a large number of NHS workers who are not vaccinated in the first place?

The Department of Health believes that over 200,000 NHS workers are unvaccinated. This includes 103,000 trust workers who have not been vaccinated and 105,000 domiciliary workers. These figures were provided by the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. The number of agency workers who are not vaccinated is unknown.

What’s more, when faced with having the jab or losing their job, only 54,000 (26 per cent) would agree to be vaccinated, while 126,000 (61 per cent) would leave their jobs. The NHS employs more than 1.35 million people. 

Perhaps it isn’t surprising then that some professional associations, such as the Royal College of Nursing, and the British Medical Association, oppose compulsory vaccination for their members.

After a six week consultation, Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary announced on November 9 that frontline NHS staff must be fully vaccinated. Otherwise they could face being fired. This deadline was set for April 2022 to give staff sufficient time to receive their full vaccines.

When faced with having the jab or losing their job, only 54,000 (26 per cent) would agree to be vaccinated, while 126,000 (61 per cent) would leave their jobs. (There are more than 1.4 million people working for NHS trusts.)

Only 54,000 people (26%) would consent to being vaccinated if they were faced with losing their job or getting the jab. 126,000 (61%) would quit their jobs. The NHS employs more than 1.35 million people.

The consultation received nearly half the response from health care workers who work with patients. 36% of respondents opposed mandatory vaccination. However, professional organizations were the strongest opponents.

The Royal College of Physicians said it was ‘very concerned’ that if jabs were made obligatory ‘it could have a negative and far-reaching impact on the NHS workforce’. 

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said it believed that ‘all health and care staff should choose to be vaccinated’, but added that ‘our view is that making any vaccination mandatory is not sensible or necessary’.

The Royal College of Nursing’s stated position is that ‘all members of the nursing team should have any vaccine deemed necessary to help protect themselves, patients, colleagues, family members and the wider community’.

But it adds: ‘The RCN has significant concerns that mandating vaccines will further marginalise those who are currently vaccine hesitant and put further pressure on a hugely depleted workforce by forcing people out of employment.’

It is not known if a patient could contract a Covid infection from ill staff. But research by the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals Trust found two of the 22 patients who’d been infected in Addenbrooke’s between March and June 2020 had caught it from staff.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said it believed that ¿all health and care staff should choose to be vaccinated¿, but added that ¿our view is that making any vaccination mandatory is not sensible or necessary¿. An NH worker is seen being vaccinated

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said it believed that ‘all health and care staff should choose to be vaccinated’, but added that ‘our view is that making any vaccination mandatory is not sensible or necessary’. A NH worker being vaccinated

chris Illingworth, the study lead and a senior lecturer at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, says: ‘The first rule in medicine is to do no harm.

‘People … should be able to feel certain that the clinical staff treating them have done everything they can to keep them safe.’

There are many reasons healthcare workers refuse to get vaccinated. In July, a large study was published in The Lancet Regional Health in Europe. It examined vaccine hesitancy. It was based on six studies that involved nearly 12,000 employees. The results showed almost 25% were vaccine hesitant. However, rates differed between ethnicities.

The most hesitant group were those who identified as Black Caribbean (54.2%), followed by Mixed White Caribbean and Black Caribbean (38.1%) and White British (21.3%)

Of the total 63.1 procent of respondents concerned about safety and potential side-effects, 71.4 percent were Asians. Black (78.1 per cent), Mixed (69.9 percent) and White (55.3 per cent) followed.

Concern was expressed about the safety of vaccines in different ethnicities. 46.7 percent of Blacks were concerned, while 34.6 percent of Asians were.

Helen Donovan, the professional lead for public health at the Royal College of Nursing, told Good Health: ‘Improving confidence in vaccines is complex and there are variations across different cultural groups, different religious groups, and between different vaccines.’

Daniel Sokol is a prominent medical ethicist and lawyer who served as an ethical adviser to various government agencies. He believes that organisations like the Royal College of Nursing do not have any business advocating against compulsory vaccination.

‘They risk damaging public trust and confidence in the medical profession,’ he told Good Health.

‘Very few reasonable patients would want to be treated by unvaccinated staff. I can’t imagine many reasonable clinicians would want to work closely with them either.’

From an ethical perspective, he added, there was no question that ‘healthcare staff working with patients should be vaccinated’.