WAR ON JABS: Angry NHS staff march through London’s Trafalgar Square
As thousands took to the streets to protest the policy yesterday, a poll for the Sunday Express found 52 per cent against the unvaccinated losing their jobs.
An MP said last night: ‘After all their hard work during Covid, we shouldn’t be rewarding NHS staff with sacking.’
According to the Redfield & Wilton survey of 1,500 people, only 29% support firing unvaccinated staff.
The vaccination mandate is due to come into effect on April 1, which means those who have not received a first vaccination must do so by February 3.
Campaign groups The Together Declaration and NHS100K have warned that more than 100,000 unvaccinated NHS staff, ranging from doctors and nurses to IT administrators and consultants, will be made redundant.
It also emerged that the Department of Health and Social Care was advising NHS Trusts to recruit replacement staff from overseas, in anticipation of losing 10% of their workforce.
But sources close to Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is responsible for immigration, suggested she had not been consulted on the contingency plan.
With political pressure mounting, the government was warned that it had to drop the idea altogether.
The Sunday Express has been told by government sources that the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Sajid Javid are “considering a pause” in implementing the plan.
Senior Tory MP Mark Harper, chair of the Covid Recovery Group, said: ‘A ‘pause’ is progress, but the policy should be scrapped.
“After all their hard work during Covid, we shouldn’t be rewarding NHS staff with sacking.”
Husband and wife Tory MPs Esther McVey and Philip Davies highlighted the issue on their GB News program yesterday, interviewing a doctor and nurse who are set to lose their jobs.
Ms McVey, who challenged the Prime Minister on the issue on Wednesday, said: “Tens of thousands of experienced and accomplished healthcare professionals are ready to leave the NHS rather than be mandated to get their Covid shots.
“It would be sheer madness to allow this to happen, especially when the government is trying to reduce the huge backlog of operations. The government must see the common sense and reverse this trend.”
Prime Minister and Sajid Javid ‘considering pause’ in plan implementation
Former government special adviser turned MP Danny Kruger also tweeted: ‘Encouraging signs ministers are reviewing evidence on mandatory vax for NHS workers.’
Meanwhile, Labor MPs working with unions are also fighting the proposal.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck called the policy “reckless”.
She said: “With around 90,000 vacancies across the NHS, we simply cannot afford to lose thousands of our dedicated and experienced NHS staff overnight.”
The Workers’ Union of England has been involved in advising NHS staff on how to avoid being made redundant, with the help of expert lawyers. Other unions and professional bodies have also joined in opposing the plans.
The TUC called for a delay “to avoid a staffing crisis”.
Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nurses, said: ‘To dismiss valuable nursing staff during this crisis would be an act of self-sabotage.
Martin Marshall, president of the Royal College of GPs, told the BBC that compulsory vaccination for healthcare professionals in England is “not the right way to go”. He suggested a delay would allow for “a sensible conversation” about politics.
More than 100,000 healthcare professionals and members of the public have also signed an open letter to the government calling on it to roll back the NHS policy on healthcare workers.
One of the signatories, Professor Allyson Pollock, a public health academic, tweeted: “There is no contradiction between supporting proven vaccines and opposing compulsory vaccination. For the past 100 years, vaccination has been based on trust, education, informed consent and freedom to choose in the UK.”
However, despite suggestions that the Government would rethink the policy, which was also backed by the Labor Party and Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Javid continued to press publicly for it to go ahead.
A spokesman for the health secretary said while the poll showed opposition, other surveys showed strong support.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “The NHS and healthcare staff are doing an incredible job and we are grateful to those who have chosen to be vaccinated.
“Health and social care workers are tasked with caring for some of society’s most vulnerable people, many of whom are more likely to suffer serious consequences if exposed to the virus.
“It’s about patient safety and making sure people in hospital or in care have as much protection as possible. Vaccinations remain our best defense against Covid-19.”
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Protestors against the policy marched to BBC headquarters in London and then to Whitehall. One was NHS consultant Steve James, who challenged Mr Javid over the policy earlier this month on live television when the Health Secretary visited a London hospital.
Deputy Head of the NHS Covid Immunization Program Dr Nikki Kanani has been asked what she would say to staff protesting compulsory vaccination.
She replied: “I think it’s a really difficult time for some people to make a decision that is fundamentally about protecting themselves and their families and communities.
“So if you’re walking, just take a moment. Think about the people you’ve cared for who have experienced Covid, think about your colleagues you’ve worked with and think about the best way to make sure we’re all protected.” , and that we are all as safe as possible – because we are very involved together and it is up to us to take care of each other too.”
Asked whether patients will suffer if the NHS loses staff due to compulsory vaccination. plans, she said: “As we have seen throughout the pandemic, and of course these days before the pandemic which we don’t even think about very often, our NHS continues to function.
“What I want to say is to our patients who listen to us, we will continue to take care of you.
“That’s what we do at the NHS. Our GP teams, our pharmacy teams, our health services.”
She added: “We’re here for you, so never worry. The NHS is open. The NHS is here for you.”
The UK recorded 76,807 new Covid cases and 297 deaths yesterday, compared to 81,713 and 287 deaths last week.