What could mandatory jabs for health workers mean for the NHS?

ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan looks at why this decision was made and what impact it could have

The Health Secretary has made no secret of the fact he backs mandatory Covid vaccinations for healthcare staff.

He was the one after all who asked social care staff to get jabbed, or face redundancy.

Sajid Javid has repeatedly been asked whether he plans to do the same for frontline NHS workers and he’s repeatedly made it clear that is the direction of travel. Patient safety, he is likely to argue as he has with social care, is just too important not to enforce it.

The problem Mr Javid has is that health leaders are extremely concerned about the idea. They point out that around 110,000 of the NHS workforce aren’t vaccinated, which amounts to 8% of staff.

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If, by the spring, those workers still don’t feel able to have the vaccine the health service might suddenly see tens of thousands of people leave their posts. It’s a real possibility just at a time when the NHS is trying to get back on its feet after the pandemic.

When you think there are more than 100,000 vacancies in the service too it makes the problem ever more pertinent. Ministers will no doubt have been watching the care sector to see how compulsory jabs have gone down. Staff have until Thursday to get fully vaccinated and there are fears the sector could lose the 60,000 workers who weren’t immunised.

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But are the public on their side? It will be interesting to see reaction to this latest policy. Unions argue that persuasion is the best way to get people to change their mind, not force. In fact, many argue force just makes the situation worse and has the opposite affect.

If the public get on side though and agree with the government that patients shouldn’t be treated by a clinician who isn’t vaccinated, staff might quickly find themselves in a difficult position. It’s a very emotive subject and one that will be debated for months to come.