By Yuri Prasad
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2790

Tories back down on compulsory vaccinations

NHS workers will no longer risk losing their jobs if unvaccinated.
Issue 2790
Johnson receives the Covid-19 vaccination.

Tories hope to shift the blame of their Covid-19 failures onto ordinary people. (Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street)

Health secretary Sajid Javid was this week forced to abandon his requirement that all health workers be vaccinated.
 
Under a law passed in December last year, every NHS and care worker that has contact with patients had to be double jabbed by April—or face the sack.
 
That meant all staff would have to have had their first jab by Thursday of this week.
 
Health bosses warned last weekend that so many staff were going to be sacked that services, including maternity wards, would be unsafe.
 
Javid has now said the government is “reviewing” the law and that no health worker should lose their job over his policy.
 
Yet even last week he was defending the rule, insisting it was the only way to keep patients safe.
 
Health union activists were quick to point out that the Tories were not to be trusted.
 
Javid’s move was an attempt to deflect blame for Tory pandemic failures on to those who had not had the vaccine, they said.
 
They are right. It’s Tory policies that have cost thousands of lives, not unvaccinated health staff. 
 
The government has this week recklessly ended all public safety measures.
 
Meanwhile health workers are still having to fight for good quality protective equipment.
 
The Tories forced similar measures on social care in November last year, leading to an exodus of around 40,000 staff. One care charity yesterday accused the government of using the sector as “the trial run for the NHS”.
 
Labour shadow health secretary Wes Streeting was also forced into an embarrassing retreat over the issue.
 
His party had originally opposed mandatory vaccines, but under his guidance had decided to change its policy and support the government.
 
Now, just a few weeks later, he spluttered that the policy “could see tens of thousands of staff forced to leave their roles at a time when our health service is already understaffed and overstretched.”
 
Labour’s change of policy had wrong-footed many health unions.
 
All had verbally opposed the mandatory vaccination policy, rightly explaining they are in favour of “persuasion not punishment”.
 
But none were prepared to take real action to defend the thousands of their members that faced the sack.
 
Activists should use the government’s weakness to push for the best pandemic protection measures possible, and continue the fight for a safe NHS.

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