Source: Practice Index
Most practice staff will need to be vaccinated against COVID by next spring, under new rules announced by the government.
GP leaders reacted in dismay as the government said it intends to press ahead with compulsory COVID vaccination for all health and care workers. The Royal College of GPs said it remains opposed to the move, warning of the potential loss of staff. Other clinical organisations also expressed alarm.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said the new rules would be introduced on 1 April and will apply to all staff and volunteers with contact with patients. Flu vaccination will remain voluntary.
He said: “Vaccines save lives and patient safety is paramount. Many of the people being treated in hospitals or cared for at home are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. We have a responsibility to give patients and staff the best possible protection. We have consulted closely with the sector and will introduce new regulations to ensure people working in healthcare are vaccinated from next spring.”
The Times today says the decision could lead to the loss of 73,000 health and care workers, according to a government impact statement.
Royal College of GPs chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “To hear reports that the decision of the Secretary of State is to ignore the views of the College, and many other representative bodies across healthcare including the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for NHS workers, is disappointing and sets a concerning precedent. The RCGP believes that informed and educated choices about health interventions are more beneficial long-term than enforced interventions, which risks leading to resentment and mistrust.
“The move to mandatory vaccination is particularly concerning at a time when we need as many people as possible working in general practice and across the health and care sectors delivering essential patient care and services. We can ill afford to risk losing staff with personal objections to the vaccine, however unfounded those objections may be, and we are unlikely to be in a better position with workforce pressures come next April.”
The British Medical Association said it continued to have “serious concerns.” Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “There is an important distinction between believing every healthcare worker should be vaccinated and advocating mandatory vaccinations for all NHS staff. Doing this comes with its own practical and also ethical implications – such as the right for anyone to make their own private healthcare decisions – and we hope that as Government progresses with plans to make the COVID jab compulsory for NHS staff, these are carefully considered and taken into account.”
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