Thousands of Leeds NHS workers could be impacted by compulsory vaccination announcement

Thousands of NHS workers in Leeds are thought to be impacted by the news that frontline staff will need to have their Covid-19 vaccinations to continue in their jobs.

By Joanna Wardill
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 4:45 am

In a Commons statement, the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that frontline NHS and social care staff will be required to have two doses of the Covid jab, with enforcement of the rule from April 1 next year.

Only those who do not have face-to-face contact with patients or who are medically exempt will fall outside the new rule.

The Yorkshire Evening Post understands the numbers of staff working at NHS trusts in the city who have yet to be double-vaccinated stretches into the thousands.

cc Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Union bosses have criticised the Government’s stance and warned the already “struggling” NHS can ill-afford to lose any staff.

According to NHS England’s vaccination data, as of September 30, 89.4 per cent of the 20,905-strong workforce at Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust had received both doses - leaving approximately 2,200 yet to be fully vaccinated.

The data shows uptake at Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust at 91.3 per cent, leaving 293 workers without both doses.

And uptake at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health and learning disability services, stands at around 90.1 per cent, leaving around 334 without both doses.

It is not clear how many of these are frontline staff or medically exempt.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the regulations cover health and social care workers who have direct, face-to-face contact with people while providing care, such as doctors, nurses, dentists and domiciliary care workers.

They will also apply to ancillary staff such as porters or receptionists who may have social contact with patients but are not directly involved in their care.

Care home workers in England have already been told they must be fully vaccinated by the deadline of this Thursday.

Mr Javid told MPs the decision to make Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory for NHS staff does not mean the Government does not recognise concerns about "workforce pressures" this winter.

He added: "Allow me to be clear that no-one in the NHS or care that is currently unvaccinated should be scapegoated, singled out or shamed.

"That would be totally unacceptable. This is about supporting them to make a positive choice to protect vulnerable people, to protect their colleagues. And of course to protect themselves."

Regional figures published by the NHS show 5.1 per cent of NHS staff in the Yorkshire and North East region were unvaccinated as of October 31, leaving 12,246 yet to be vaccinated.

Trevor Johnston, regional manager and head of health for Yorkshire and the Humber, told the Yorkshire Evening Post, said making vaccinations compulsory was not the right way forward and carries a “real risk” of losing staff.

“The NHS is struggling as it is. We really can’t afford to be losing any staff coming into the winter pressures.

“It needs a careful approach to do everything to persuade people [to get vaccinated].”

He said: “To force people when they don’t understand the real reasons why they aren’t having it… they could do a lot more persuasion and try to understand the reasons why.”

He added: “We would encourage everyone to get it - it protects individuals and the population. We are very clear that people should be getting it.

“But for those who don’t want it - we need to understand the reasons before we compel them to get it.”

Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “With the five months until this decision takes effect, the Government and employers must continue to engage with the small minority who have chosen not to have the vaccine."

Mr Javid said the decision to make jabs mandatory for care home staff meant that the number of people working in care homes who have not had at least one dose had fallen from 88,000 to just 32,000 at the start of last month.

Of the consultation regarding making vaccines mandatory for NHS staff, he added: "I've carefully considered the responses and the evidence and I've concluded that the scales clearly tip to one side.

"The weight of the data shows our vaccinations have kept people safe and they have saved lives."

He added that flu jabs will not be compulsory, although the issue is being kept under review.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: "The NHS has always been clear that staff should get the life-saving Covid vaccination to protect themselves, their loved ones and their patients, and the overwhelming majority have already done so.

"Working with NHS organisations, we will continue to support staff who have not yet received the vaccination to take up the evergreen offer."

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