Is it right to make everyone in the NHS vaccinated against Covid Are people allowed to have the jabs, or face being fired?
These are the questions Sajid Jamid, the Health Secretary, is trying to answer. He is urging mandatory vaccinations for NHS staff.
I have one clear message to him – Please, Sajid, I urge you to do this. There should not be any discussion or debate.
Investigations by the Daily Mail have shown there is a substantial minority of workers across the NHS who are ‘vaccine hesitant’. About 10% of workers are reluctant about getting jabs.
This is approximately 130,000 NHS staff who believe they can do their jobs without the vaccine. It should be obvious that knowingly failing to keep patients safe is gross misconduct.
Sajid Javid, Britain’s Health Secretary, speaks during a press conference in the Downing Street Briefing Room.
If they don’t have the jab, they shouldn’t have a job. I don’t say these things to impose my rules upon others. I’m a libertarian at heart and don’t like telling people what to do. My role as a doctor is advisory.
I tell patients: ‘Don’t smoke. Keep your alcohol consumption within safe limits.’ These are only recommendations, though.
If you refuse to have a vaccine and risk taking coronavirus into a hospital or GP surgery, that’s different because patients have a right to be kept as safe as possible.
Unvaccinated staff may infect vulnerable patients. They might also spread the disease to other hospital workers, causing them significant time off work.
Many people argue that if there is a ‘no jab, no job’ edict, large numbers of staff will be lost in overstretched hospitals that already have too few.
I am afraid it is a risk we have to take – although I believe the predictions of staff meltdowns are exaggerated. We cannot afford to let Covid run wild again.
This is something I strongly believe in. We must do all we can to ensure the nation is as secure as possible as winter draws near. It would cause untold misery, mayhem, and destruction.
Today’s total coronavirus deaths was 38, which is down 16% from the Monday fatality toll.
The Department of Health reported 36 657 new cases in 24 hours, a decrease of 25% from last week.
The devastating effects of lockdowns continue to be felt by those of us who work on the frontlines of the NHS.
Operations cancelled or delayed in diagnosing cancer, and chronic conditions are left untreated or not monitored.
The backlog of untreated cases can be very frightening. Added to this is the increase in child abuse and domestic violence.
Lockdowns have been detrimental to literacy and child development. People with dementia have suffered rapid decline due to lack of family contact.
My own specialty area is seeing an increase in the number of mental health problems, including alcoholism, suicide and self-harm.
What is more, I don’t see why anyone even considers compulsory vaccines for NHS staff controversial.
There is a growing debate about how the epidemic will unfold over the next months and whether mandatory face masks, working from home, and vaccine passports are required (shown on Boris’ winter plan). Sajid Javid (Health Secretary) has promised a “normal Christmas” this year
As health professionals, we must also lead by example. However, if you want a career as a medical professional in the frontline, you will need to have documentation to prove your immunity against TB or measles.
Even for medical training, it’s a basic condition. Students must have a certificate of vaccination against Hepatitis B before they can begin college. Without it, they won’t be admitted.
Why should all NHS staff get vaccinated? First, because people in non-patient-facing roles still have vital parts to play in the NHS. We need all hands on deck.
Managers, secretaries, laboratory staff, estates and facilities workers – they are all important cogs in the NHS machine. Absence and sickness among admin staff can have a terrible knock-on effect.
If vital letters about patients don’t get sent out, for instance, that might mean treatments get delayed or important information isn’t relayed or test results that could save lives aren’t processed.
But also there’s the reality that even staff who don’t have direct day-to-day contact with patients still come into occasional contact with them – either passing in the corridor on the way to their office or in the canteen or other communal spaces.
They will also have regular contact with frontline personnel who must meet patients.
The NHS is on the brink of being overwhelmed. So to those working in the health service I say: ‘Please get double-jabbed. The NHS needs you to.’