Entire hospital units could be forced to close because of staff quitting in protest at the government’s covid vaccination mandate, the chief executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson has warned
The senior NHS leader said that at one hospital trust in England, 40 midwives have refused to get jabbed, raising fears that the maternity unit may have to shut.
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Hopson said: “Trust leaders are acutely aware that, from April onwards, when Covid vaccinations will become mandatory, decisions by staff to remain unvaccinated could – in extreme circumstances – lead to patient services being put at risk” adding that “If sufficient numbers of unvaccinated staff in a particular service in a particular location choose not to get vaccinated, the viability and/or safety of that service could be at risk.”
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MSN reports: Hopson did not name the trust. But he cautioned that its maternity unit is “one representative example” of potential closures on grounds of patient safety that the government’s decision to compel NHS staff in England to be vaccinated or risk losing their job could lead to.
Hopson said: “I was talking to a [trust] chief executive who said that 40 of the midwives on their midwifery service … were saying they were not prepared to be vaccinated. Those staff, given their skills and their expertise, are not easily redeployed but they’re also extremely difficult to replace.
The trust’s chief executive “is seriously concerned about the safety of the service” because of the potential exodus of midwives.
Maternity staff quitting over compulsory jabs posed a particular challenge because of the NHS-wide shortage of midwives, Hopson said. NHS England estimates that maternity services need 2,000 more whole-time equivalent midwives, while the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) puts the figure at 2,500.
The health secretary, Sajid Javid, and NHS England need to “be clear well in advance how we will resolve the hopefully small number of instances where service viability and safety could be at risk” because of frontline personnel leaving rather than getting immunised, said Hopson. The new rule applies to any staff who have face-to-face contact with patients but also non-clinical staff including hospital porters.