NHS staff should be forced to have the jab BEFORE winter says former Health Secretary Matt Hancock

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    NHS staff should be forced to get two doses of the Covid vaccine before winter, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today.

    Ministers are mulling over plans to make jabs compulsory for healthcare workers, after pushing through the requirement for care home employees this summer. 

    But last week they appeared to push back the inoculation deadline until April amid warnings from health chiefs that imposing the ‘no jab, no job’ policy too early could leave hospitals understaffed ahead of a difficult winter.

    Writing in the Daily Telegraph Mr Hancock, who was Health Secretary for three years, warned ministers against delaying compulsory vaccinations for the sector into the new year.

    He said: ‘Having looked at all the evidence, I am now convinced we must require vaccination for everyone who works not just in social care but the NHS — and get it in place as fast as possible…So as we prepare to a face a difficult winter, let’s use all the tools we have to save lives. 

    ‘Imagine the cancer patient, already battling another deadly disease, being cared for by a nurse. Who can put their hand on their heart and say they’d be happy to tell that patient their nurse could have the vaccine, but has chosen against all scientific and clinical advice to ignore it.’

    Mr Hancock said doctors and nurses had a ‘moral duty’ to get the Covid vaccine to protect their patients.

    A SAGE adviser said today it was a ‘general standard of hygiene’ for anyone in a frontline role in contact with vulnerable patients to be double-vaccinated against Covid. But they stopped short of calling for jabs to be made compulsory, saying this should only be done as a ‘last resort’. 

    NHS England figures show only a small minority of NHS staff are still to get two doses of the vaccine, with more than nine in ten doctors and nurses having already received both jabs. But figures show at two trusts — in London and Birmingham — a fifth of staff are still yet to get fully inoculated. 

    All care home workers will be required to have had two doses of the Covid vaccine from Thursday or lose their jobs, under a policy brought in while Mr Hancock was Health Secretary. 

    But the Government’s own figures suggest this will lead to some 40,000 care home workers losing their jobs in the already understaffed sector. This could lead to the closure of up to 500 homes, putting extra pressure on hospitals which will be unable to discharge patients well enough to be taken off the wards.

    Former Health Secretary has warned ministers against delaying mandatory jabs for nurses and doctors and urged them to make jabs mandatory for NHS staff before winter

    Former Health Secretary has warned ministers against delaying mandatory jabs for nurses and doctors and urged them to make jabs mandatory for NHS staff before winter

    Some 100,000 NHS workers are yet to get at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, figures show. The above graph shows the percentage that have got their first dose (blue line) and the percentage that have got both doses (orange line)

    Some 100,000 NHS workers are yet to get at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, figures show. The above graph shows the percentage that have got their first dose (blue line) and the percentage that have got both doses (orange line)

    The above map shows the 20 hospital trusts with the lowest proportion of staff fully jabbed in England. The data is up to September 30, the latest available

    The above map shows the 20 hospital trusts with the lowest proportion of staff fully jabbed in England. The data is up to September 30, the latest available

    Calling for compulsory vaccinations for NHS staff, Mr Hancock said: ‘To me the logic is crystal clear. Medicine is founded on science — and the science of the Covid vaccines is comprehensively proven. Mandating the use of the best science isn’t controversial — it’s common sense.

    ‘There are some people who say this isn’t the way we do things in Britain.

    ‘But we already mandate vaccination against Hepatitis B for doctors. The British historic precedents for compulsory vaccination go back to the 1950s.’

    Covid vaccination is ‘general standard of hygiene’ for doctors and nurses, says SAGE adviser

    A SAGE adviser has said doctors and nurses should get two doses of the Covid vaccine as a ‘general standard of hygiene’.

    Professor Peter Openshaw, who is a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) that feeds into SAGE, today called for all NHS staff to get the vaccine.

    But he stopped short of saying jabs should be compulsory, saying the measure must instead only be used as a ‘last resort’. 

    He told Times radio: ‘I’ve always been against making vaccines mandatory.

    ‘But I think the answer is to try to get as much information as you can — to really try to talk to people onm their own terms about why they might be uncertain about whether they should be vaccinated and only absolutely as a last resort should you make it a condition of employment.

    ‘But I do think that people should not be working in frontline jobs in contact with vulnerable patients unless they’ve been vaccinated.

    ‘And I’m sorry to say about that — but it’s like washing your hands — it’s a general standard of hygiene.

    ‘You don’t do things in the workplace that endanger those that you’re caring for and being vaccinated makes other people safe, it makes you safe.’

    NHS England figures suggest nine in ten doctors and nurses are already full-vaccinated against Covid. 

    To show the success of the policy he pointed to France, where since it became a requirement the proportion of healthcare workers double-jabbed has surged from two-thirds to 99 per cent.

    In Britain, health sources say making Covid vaccines compulsory for care home workers only had a ‘slight’ effect on uptake. NHS figures showed some 60,000 staff were yet to get double-jabbed at the end of October, although some of these may have been exempt for medical reasons. 

    Mr Hancock called on policymakers to use ‘all the tools that we have to save lives’ ahead of what is expected to be a very difficult winter for the health service. 

    At Barts Health NHS Trust in East London there are 4,000 out of 24,000 employees that are yet to be fully jabbed. It is unclear how many were medically-trained frontline staff who interact with patients, and how many were working in office-based roles.  

    However, nationally 89 per cent of NHS employees in England have had both doses of a Covid vaccine.

    And figures showed more than 92 per cent of doctors, nurses and administrative staff have already got at least one dose of the vaccine. Uptake was highest in the South West and South East, but lowest in London.

    Ministers have been mulling over plans to make it compulsory for all hospital staff to be double-jabbed this winter to give extra layers of protection heading into a tough period for the NHS. The flu jab may also be made compulsory.

    But it is believed they have now kicked the can down the road after being warned by unions that this could lead to a wave of resignations when hospitals are likely to be under the most pressure from Covid and other respiratory diseases like flu.

    The Government is instead reported to be planning the impose the requirement from April.

    In care homes the ‘no jab, no job’ policy has done more harm than good, with figures suggesting some 60,000 employees are to be made redundant next week risking homes being short-staffed. Sources say the policy only had ‘a little’ impact on jab uptake. 

    NHS England publishes monthly figures on how many staff have got a first and second dose of the Covid vaccine by trust, and the proportion that have been jabbed. 

    The latest data is for up to September 30, with the next batch not due to be released until next week.

    NHS staff were prioritised in the vaccine roll out, and have been able to get their first dose since December last year.  

     Rounding out top five worst trusts were North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, where 80.2 per cent had got two doses, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust, at 80.3 per cent, and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, at 80.4 per cent. 

    Uptake was highest in Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust where or 94.8 per cent of staff were double-vaccinated. 

    It was followed by Dorset County Hospital NHS Trust (94.6 per cent), Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (94.5 per cent), West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (both 94.4 per cent). 

    The above map shows the five areas where more than one in five care home employees are still yet to get two doses of the Covid vaccine

    The above map shows the five areas where more than one in five care home employees are still yet to get two doses of the Covid vaccine

    The above graph shows the proportion of staff working in care homes for the over-65s who have received their first and second doses of the vaccine. It reveals that there was no sharp surge in uptake when the jabs were made compulsory

    The above graph shows the proportion of staff working in care homes for the over-65s who have received their first and second doses of the vaccine. It reveals that there was no sharp surge in uptake when the jabs were made compulsory

    Figures showed that of the 20 hospital and mental health trusts with the lowest Covid vaccine uptake, three-quarters were in the capital. The others were all based in the Midlands.

    Experts have suggested vaccine hesitancy is higher in the capital and Midlands because they have larger ethnic minority communities, who are generally less likely to get vaccinated.  

    No hospital trust had reached 100 per cent uptake, but this was to be expected because some staff may be exempt from jabs for medical reasons or because they had a reaction to the first dose.  

    Separate NHS England data up to October 24, the latest available, shows 89 per cent of doctors, nurses and administrative staff in the health service have got two doses. 

    For first doses uptake was as high as 92 per cent.

    Broken down by regions, London had the lowest uptake, with 16.5 per cent of staff yet to get two doses of the vaccine, followed by the Midlands where 10.2 per cent were yet to be double-jabbed.

    For comparison, in the South West which had the highest uptake just 7.4 per cent of employees were yet to get their second jab, and 5 per cent still have not got their first dose.

    In the South East, some 7.7 per cent of employees are yet to get two doses, and 5.2 per cent have not got their first dose.

    NHS workers won’t face being sacked if they don’t get vaccinated against Covid this winter, it was claimed today despite fears of another wave over the coming months.

    Officials have been deliberating over a ‘no jab, no job’ move for NHS staff for months, in a bid to protect the health service this winter. 

    Ministers have already pressed ahead with the same controversial move for care home workers, who are required to have two doses from November 11 in order to keep their jobs.

    Department of Health bosses told MailOnline ‘no final decision’ had been made, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid rumoured to still have reservations about the policy — despite publicly admitting that he was ‘leaning towards’ the mandate.

    But a Whitehall insider close to the negotiations claimed the move was a ‘done deal’ and could be formally unveiled as soon as today.

    Pressure is growing on Mr Javid to roll out the scheme, however, with one official telling the Telegraph: ‘We had this with the flu jab. We were interested in mandating the flu jab.

    ‘There was always pushback against it from the NHS. The whole point is that, if you get more people jabbed now from Covid, it is easier for staff.

    ‘There is an argument that it is one of the best ways to take pressure off staff.’ 

    Critics of the move have called for it to be delayed until April, advice that Mr Javid appears to have heeded, and warned it could leave to a mass exodus of staff from the sector. There are already 100,000 vacancies in the NHS — including more than 4,000 doctors and 18,000 nurses.

    Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, has come out against plans to make jabs compulsory for the sector.

    She warned: ‘We do not think that making the Covid vaccine mandatory for doctors is either necessary or proportionate.

    ‘So if it’s true that the Department of Health is pressing ahead with compulsory vaccination we would be very wary.’ 

    She added: ‘While we do think that it is the professional responsibility of doctors to get the jab, when we know that more than 92 per cent of them have already done so, you have to ask why such a heavy-handed approach is being taken.’

    Unions are already warning that plans to make Covid jabs compulsory in the social care sector from next week could ‘cripple’ the sector and force some homes to close.

    Figures show some 60,000 employees are still not double-vaccinated, with homes in Manchester, Nottingham, Westminster and Birmingham having the lowest jab uptake.

    Care sources have called for the deadline to be delayed, and said making the jabs compulsory has only had ‘a little’ impact on uptake anyway.

    Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced they would seek the requirement in June following a consultation. But health leaders said they were finding talking to staff who were skeptical about jabs was working better than making them compulsory. 

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