The chief executive of King’s College Hospital fears he will lose staff over the upcoming requirement for frontline health workers to be vaccinated.
Clive Kay estimated that around 10% of his 14,000 staff in the London hospital were still unvaccinated.
Kay spoke out after a doctor at King’s told health secretary Sajid Javid that he was “not happy” that he could face dismissal for not having the vaccine.
Mandatory vaccinations come into effect for full-time, patient-facing NHS staff in England from 1 April. They must have had their first dose by 3 February, or risk losing their job at the end of March.
There are no such proposals in Scotland and Wales, and there is to be a public consultation in Northern Ireland.
A government impact statement into the vaccine requirement has already estimated that around 73,000 workers could leave as a result.
Workers in social care settings had to have received both vaccines against coronavirus by 11 November 2021.
ICU consultant Steve James told the BBC that he believed vaccination should be a matter of personal choice.
“Normally you go through this process of informed consent, where you weigh up as a doctor with the patient, the risks, the benefits and that person’s personal preference,” he told the Sophie Raworth programme this Sunday (9 January).
Kay added that his staff were “not being forced” to have the jab but were being encouraged.
He said: “There’s a possibility if they choose not to be vaccinated they could be redeployed. And if we can’t find that opportunity to redeploy them then the consequence is that they will [not have a job].”
The Department for Health and Social Care estimates that more than 93% of NHS frontline staff have received their first dose, and 90% are fully vaccinated.
Unions have called for a delay to making double vaccination compulsory as they fear it will worsen an already severe staffing crisis.
The TUC warned that pressing ahead with the plan would “exacerbate this crisis, creating a bureaucratic and staffing nightmare for NHS trusts and making it impossible to maintain safe staffing levels in the coming weeks”.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary, said: “We are in the middle of an NHS staffing crisis, born not only from Covid absences but also long-term problems that need long-term solutions. Now is not the right time to introduce more bureaucracy.
“As hospitals declare critical incidents amid a surge in Covid cases, the NHS cannot afford to lose experienced and skilled staff.”