The Tories have decreed that NHS workers will have to be fully vaccinated by next April or risk being sacked.
The move threatens a further staffing crisis similar to the one that is unfolding in social care where compulsory vaccination became mandatory on Thursday this week.
Around 32,000 care home staff have not been fully vaccinated in England according to health secretary Sajid Javid. They are now set to be pushed out
Socialist Worker supports Covid-19 vaccination. We urge everyone to be jabbed as soon as it’s possible.
But forcing people to be vaccinated is wrong. It has to be done through persuasion, not punishment. Nobody should feel they have to be vaccinated or they will lose their job—and the pay that goes with it.
Trade unions oppose compulsion. Christina McAnea, general secretary of the Unison union, said there would be “dire consequences” for care homes from Javid’s “draconian approach”.
“The staffing crisis will become a catastrophe for a sector already on its knees,” she said. “Some homes may have to close if care staff are barred from their jobs. Forcing the vaccine on care staff is an own goal by the government.”
The latest published data shows that over 103,000 NHS trust workers are not double jabbed. Some of these may be medically exempt. Some may now be jabbed because of Javid’s threats.
But it’s equally possible that tens of thousands might be sacked.
Already there are officially 90,000 vacancies in the NHS in England. That figure would be higher if not for workers who have put off their retirement in order to help the beleaguered NHS.
A Unison union member at Barts hospital in central London told Socialist Worker, “I support the vaccine, and I’d urge everyone to have it. But I’m very worried that this will drive out valuable staff.
“There are people who have worries, particularly black and minority ethnic workers. That’s partly because of the horrific history of how medical experiments were carried out on black people previously.”
In France, where a compulsion scheme operates, it has combined with health workers’ exhaustion and cuts to lead to the closure of 20 percent of hospital beds. That’s according to the country’s Scientific Council. The government says that is “only 6 percent.”
The Welsh government said on Tuesday that "We do not see the need for compulsory vaccination measures". And there are as yet no plans in Scotland to go down the English route.
Compulsory vaccination is a cover that seeks to shift the blame for the Covid crisis onto individuals and away from the government.
The horrendous scale of Covid cases in Britain, shooting up since “freedom day” in July, is the fault of the Tories and those who have supported their measures—such as Keir Starmer.
Vaccination does not guarantee that NHS workers won’t spread the virus, so all health measures have to remain anyway.
Compulsion should be opposed by health workers and the rest of us too.