NHS staff who refuse jabs could be redeployed to ‘less exposure-prone setting’

Ella Pickover
·3-min read

Hospitals can consider redeploying staff who have refused to get the Covid-19 vaccine, a new NHS document suggests.

In the material, NHS England sets out how employers could consider moving workers who have declined the vaccine to a “less exposure-prone setting”.

The document sets out steps on how employers can ensure their staff who have declined the offer of the vaccine are safe at work.

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Measures include making sure they have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and that they have had a mask fitting, if they need to use certain respirator masks.

NHS workers should also have awareness of infection control and undertaken the appropriate training, and that they have an up-to-date risk assessment.

The document, published on Friday and seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), adds: “In addition to the above, if the risk to the member of staff, their colleagues or patients is still very significant, they could be moved into a less exposure-prone setting as an option.

“These sensitive conversations may require input from local trade union representatives and HR.”

Earlier this month, the health service in England called for managers to have one-to-one conversations with staff who refuse the Covid-19 vaccine before March 12.

Coronavirus vaccine graphic
(PA Graphics)

An email seen by the HSJ called on NHS trusts to “redouble our efforts in keeping each and every one of our staff safe”.

The email from NHS England’s chief people officer Prerana Issar said: “As a result of your continued hard work we have seen an uptick in staff vaccination numbers, with nine out of (10) eligible staff now vaccinated.”

She added: “There are, however, a number of staff who have declined the first dose of the vaccine.

“As the evidence grows around the effectiveness of the vaccine and its ability to reduce transmission, we must now redouble our efforts in keeping each and every one of our staff safe…

“So, we are asking that every staff member who declined the vaccine should now have a one-to-one conversation with their line manager to explain the powerful protective effects of the vaccine.”

The latest figures from NHS England show that, as of March 7, an estimated 94.8% of frontline health care workers in NHS Trusts in England had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 jab.

Coronavirus graphic
(PA Graphics)

Helen Donovan, professional lead for public health nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “No-one can be forced to have any medical treatment – this includes vaccines. The UK governments are not making it mandatory for health and social care workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Staff should be offered every opportunity to access vaccination. They also need to be able to make the decision to have the vaccine in a supportive environment with the right information, encouragement and a clear explanation of its benefit and value.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of council at the British Medical Association, said: “The guidance around redeployment to a less hazardous setting if the outcome of a risk assessment identifies a risk to the staff member is in line with our current guidance.

“However, it’s important to note that doctors as much as anyone, want the vaccine programme to be a success, and want to protect themselves and patients by getting vaccinated.

“We encourage all of our members and their wider colleagues to accept a vaccine when offered, unless they have a valid medical reason not to do so.

“Thankfully, according to the BMA’s recent surveys, take-up has been incredibly high among doctors, with 96% telling us they have now received at least one dose.”

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