As the deadline for the frontline healthcare workers to get fully vaccinated approaches, tens of thousands of NHS staff who have not yet taken the Covid-19 vaccine face termination in just a fortnight.
Although it is estimated that the majority of NHS staff have been fully jabbed, health and social care providers in England will soon be needed to ensure that all those working in areas regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before the April 1, 2022.
Those who are exempted from taking the vaccination do not fall under this purview.
According to the NHS England guidance around Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment (VCOD) for healthcare workers, all frontline staff must have had both the doses by April 1, meaning that by February 3 the first must have been administered and the second by March 31.
All unvaccinated frontline workers will be called into formal meetings from February 4 and given a warning of dismissal. Notices will then be issued from that day, with March 31 marking the end of the notice period
More than 80,000 staff, accounting for nearly 6 per cent of the NHS’s entire workforce, remain unvaccinated, Daily Mail reported.
The guidance, released on January 14, advised managers to move unvaccinated staff from the frontline into roles which do not involve direct patient contact.
Moreover, employers don’t have to help staff find “suitable alternative employment” and redundancy payments will not be made to those who are dismissed.
The guidance states: “It is important to note this is not a redundancy exercise.”
“In the context of the regulations, there is no diminishment or cessation of work of a particular kind.
“Employers will not be concerned with finding “suitable alternative employment” and there will be no redundancy entitlements, including payments, whether statutory or contractual, triggered by this process.”
Meanwhile, unions have warned that if the ‘no jab, no job’ policy goes ahead in April it would have a ‘catastrophic impact’ on the health service.
Reacting to the latest guidance, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association stated that “encouraging and informing the NHS workforce is still the best way to increase vaccination uptake.”
The association also supported calls from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) for the government to delay the implementation of this policy.
PDA stated: “At a time when the NHS is facing considerable workforce issues because of staff absences due to Covid-19, there is a significant risk around patient safety and the ability for essential services to be maintained should non-vaccinated staff be removed from frontline roles.”
Meanwhile, the association continues to encourage its members to participate in the vaccination programme.