One of the region’s leading employment lawyers has warned there is a risk some frontline NHS workers may leave the profession following the government’s decision to make Covid vaccines mandatory.
The warning comes from employment expert Sally Morris following confirmation from health secretary Sajid Javid that, after parliamentary approval, he will set a deadline for next year for all frontline NHS staff to receive a compulsory Covid vaccine – with around 103,000 believed to be unvaccinated.
Ms Morris, partner and head of employment at Shropshire law firm mfg Solicitors, said that the decision could leave the NHS short-staffed.
She said: “This announcement from the Department for Health that frontline NHS workers must be fully vaccinated against Covid has been expected for some time so it won’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially as it follows a similar decision for care home workers.
“There are many considerations to take into account but first and foremost it needs clarity on who should and who shouldn’t be given the vaccine. There has been lots of debate since the health secretary’s announcement but it is clear this will affect nurses, doctors, dentists and ancillary staff. It will also include those from the private sector who are contracted to the NHS.
“There is a big worry that some of these professionals and respected NHS workers who aren’t exempt may look to leave if they are strongly against the vaccine. It’s a big risk with the NHS already under huge pressure and paper-thin margins so NHS bosses must handle these people carefully, listen to them and support them.
“Ultimately, there is legislation to say that refusing the vaccine will be a fair reason for the NHS to terminate someone’s contract as the individual would be breaching what is known as a statutory restriction.
“This is exactly why people must be given all the best possible information available about the vaccine so they can make more educated choices – a message which also spreads to the private sector with businesses like City Bank also announcing a similar measure to vaccinate all staff.”
Ms Morris previously advised the care home sector that they must fully comply with the new vaccination rules ahead of the 11 November deadline – with the full impact of the changes known in the coming weeks.