UK Government U-Turn for the Mandatory Vaccine

The UK Government announcement on the mandatory vaccine policy, announced last year, meant front-line NHS workers in England would have had to be fully vaccinated by 1 April. This resulted in several staff facing redeployment or even dismissal, prompting various protests against the policy. Fast forward a few months and the government is seeking to “revoke” its mandatory Covid-19 vaccination requirements for health and care staff in England, it has been confirmed.

On January 31st, Health secretary Sajid Javid announced that the government plans to axe the mandatory vaccinations policy, after fears were raised by organisations including the British Medical Association and Unison that it would make an already severe staffing crisis “unbearable”. He further told the House of Commons that he believes it is “no longer proportionate” to require vaccination against Covid-19 as a condition of deployment for health and care workers.

The government U-turn came just days before what would have been the final deadline for staff affected by the extension to have their first jab.

It is no surprise that this last-minute change caused frustration and upset to those who raced to ensure vaccination of the first dose by the required deadline of February 3rd. Since the policy was first consulted on last September, there had been a “net increase of 127,000” NHS staff who had been jabbed, and 32,000 in social care, according to the health and social care secretary.

Frustrated care bosses have urged the Government to apologise to thousands of staff who lost their job after Sajid Javid confirmed he intends to scrap the controversial vaccine mandate. Carers were the ‘unwitting guinea pigs’ of the policy and the impact on both providers and staff ‘must not be swept under the carpet’. Care homes were already short of 100,000 workers before the pandemic, and there are concerns many sacked workers will never return. In response to the outcry, Mr Javid said the mandate was the ‘right policy at the time, supported by clinical evidence and the Government makes no apology for it’.

General secretary Christina McAnea expressed her concern when she stated that Ministers were repeatedly warned that the vaccination rules would ‘create chaos’ but they simply chose not to listen. She further went on to state that ‘this is entirely a crisis of the government’s making.’  It is yet to be seen what, if any changes, will occur in the care sector as a result of this announcement.

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