COVID-19: Forcing all NHS staff to have coronavirus jab 'not necessary', says leading health group

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Demanding all NHS staff have the coronavirus jab is not necessary with workers already overwhelmingly "doing the right thing", a leading health organisation has said.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents the frontline healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, told Sky News it was not an issue that needed tackling.

He made his comments as the government is set to launch a consultation on extending the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement from care home staff to NHS employees.

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Critics have warned the compulsory move risked fuelling workforce shortages in the health service.

It comes as the largest healthcare union urged ministers to stop "sleepwalking into a disaster" and end the "no jab, no job" rule for those in the care industry.

Unison argued ditching the requirement was the only way to avert a staffing crisis in the already overstretched sector.

From 11 November, it will become mandatory for all staff working in care homes to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus, unless they are exempt, in order to protect the residents and patients most at risk from the virus.

The government's own predictions are that up to 40,000 of the more than half a million care workers in the country will not be fully vaccinated by that date.

Speaking to the Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme, Mr Taylor argued requiring all NHS staff to be jabbed as a condition of employment "is not necessary".

He said: "The overwhelming majority of NHS staff are choosing to be vaccinated and the important thing is to support or give people the opportunity to be vaccinated, so I think we would want to say that there is no necessity for compulsion, for surveillance of people at this stage, because the staff themselves are doing the right thing.

"I think if we felt there was a real issue there, then it would be something that needed to be addressed."

Pointing out health workers had been "heroically" dealing with the national crisis for 18 months, Mr Taylor added: "So I think the question is not are there some NHS staff who are not vaccinated, the question is how do we support those NHS staff who have been doing what we needed them to do through this crisis."

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He described the health service as "running on hot" and that as the summer ended it felt "like a midwinter crisis in all parts of the NHS".

Earlier, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi defended the move to look at extending the mandatory vaccination requirement to the wider healthcare workforce.

He pointed out staff had already come forward "in huge numbers to get themselves protected and vaccinated" with almost 94% of frontline healthcare workers jabbed.

But he told Sky News: "I think it is only right and responsible that we look at the duty of care for healthcare workers on the frontline and across the NHS, who are looking after people who, when they are entering hospital, are vulnerable to infection and that we consult and we will come back and of course publish that consultation in due course."

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