Sack looms for 1,000 unvaccinated NHS staff in Shropshire

The county's health trusts are this week expecting guidance on how they might potentially sack nearly 1,000 members of staff who have not been double-jabbed.

Health workers who are not double jabbed by the March 31 deadline potentially face the sack
Health workers who are not double jabbed by the March 31 deadline potentially face the sack

NHS England is expected to supply an update on how to deal with staff who have not been double-vaccinated against Covid, after the Government last year decided that health workers who have face-to-face dealings with the public must meet the requirement – unless they are medically exempt.

The deadline for staff to be double-jabbed is March 31, but workers will need to have received their first vaccination by February 3, in order to allow the space between first and second doses.

The latest figures show that Shropshire's health trusts have 978 workers who had not been double-vaccinated – as of the most up-to-date data, published on December 2 and taking in up to November 28.

At Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) 91.7 per cent had been double-jabbed according to the update – leaving 663 workers who had not met the status.

The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) near Oswestry has 172 members of staff who do not meet the criteria, with 92.5 per cent double-jabbed, while 143 workers at Shropshire Community Health Trust (Shropcom) are short of the requirements – with 94.1 per cent of workers double-vaccinated.

Across all the organisations the uptake on the double-vaccination has been strong with 2,295 staff at Shropcom, 2,126 at RJAH, and 7,311 at SaTH, all taking up the option.

The issue is one of the most contentious facing NHS managers, with previous guidance instructing trusts to consider redeployment for those who have not had both vaccinations.

It also comes at a time when trusts are most hard-pressed over staffing, with Omicron cases causing sickness and isolation, and staff weary from the strains of two years of the pandemic.

The guidance also urged trusts to make sure workers understood the potential impact of not meeting the criteria, stating: "If it is unlikely that the worker will be fully vaccinated by April 1, 2022 (and no exemption applies), undertake a formal process with the individual in line with internal policy if applicable ensuring that the individual is aware of the possible implications of their failure to be vaccinated by April 1, 2022."

A spokeswoman for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care System said they were encouraging any workers who had not been vaccinated to do so at the earliest opportunity.

She said: “As a system we have successfully delivered two doses of the Covid vaccination to 92 per cent of our provider staff (SaTH, RJAH and ShropCom), and 79 per cent have received a booster as well. We’re encouraging all health and social care staff to protect their patients, their loved ones and themselves by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Announcing the plan in parliament last year, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it could not be "business as usual" when it came to health workers and the vaccine.

He said: "While our health and social care colleagues are a cross-section of the nation at large, there’s no denying that they carry a unique responsibility.

"They have this responsibility because they are in close contact with some of the most vulnerable people in our society – people who we know are more likely to suffer serious health consequences if they get Covid-19.

"So – whether it’s in our care homes or in our hospitals, or any other health or care setting – the first duty of everyone working in health and social care is to avoid preventable harm to the people that they care for.

"And not only that, they have a responsibility to do all they can to keep each other safe.

"These twin responsibilities – to patients and to each other – they underline, once again, why a job in health or care is a job like no other.

"So it cannot be business as usual when it comes to vaccination."

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