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The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are calling for an immediate delay to government plans for mandatory Covid vaccination of NHS staff in England, fearing a ‘catastrophic impact’ on services.
All patient-facing NHS staff must be fully vaccinated by 1 April 2022, unless exempt, or risk losing their jobs. That means that staff who are currently unvaccinated would need to have had their first dose by 3 February to comply.
Now, two royal colleges are calling for the mandate to be suspended. Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM, accused ministers of opening a “Pandora's box” of unforeseen consequences: “Since the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine the RCM has been urging its eligible midwife and maternity support worker members to have the jab to protect themselves, their families and the women and families they care for.
[pullquote]The government has opened a Pandora’s box of unforeseen consequences” – Gill Walton, Royal College of Midwives[/pullquote]
“However, we do not believe mandatory vaccination is the correct approach.”
“I appeal to the health secretary to reconsider his decision and to delay the implementation. Throughout the pandemic, maternity staff have fought to keep services open and to provide the best care to women and families. It has been unrelenting and so it’s no surprise that staff absence is currently at its highest in the pandemic so far. Moving forward with mandatory vaccination could only see staffing levels fall further.
“The government has opened a Pandora’s box of unforeseen consequences – but there is an opportunity now to close it. We are urging Sajid Javid to do just that.”