Back in August, we reported on the proposed introduction of a ‘no jab, no job’ policy in English care homes. Now, we are anticipating the extension of this policy to the NHS. So what are we to make of this development?
The story so far
Considerable controversy has surrounded the manner in which the government has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to those who live (and indeed work) in the nation’s care homes. Nevertheless, presumably with the best of intentions, during the summer the government announced its plans to require all those who work in English care homes to be fully vaccinated by no later than 11 November 2021. In effect, the only exception relates to those who are unable to receive the jab for medical reasons.
The policy has proved controversial. Some have argued that it is a breach of human rights or an infringement of their civil liberties. Others have asserted that it might indirectly discriminate against members of certain religious or ethnic groups, as well as pregnant women. All these groups may, for one reason or another, be less inclined to get jabbed than the average person. As a consequence, they and others who are not fully vaccinated can no longer work in care home settings.
Considerable media attention has been focused on this issue, including stories of large numbers of care sector workers who have refused to get vaccinated and, therefore, have had to leave their jobs. In an industry that already struggles to attract and retain enough staff, serious concerns have arisen regarding the capacity of care homes to continue to function effectively.
Against this backdrop, the government's decision to roll out to the ‘no jab, no job’ policy to all frontline NHS workers has raised eyebrows. Government estimates suggest that there may be more than 100,000 healthcare workers who have yet to be fully vaccinated. No doubt the hope is that by imposing a vaccination requirement with effect from 1 April 2022, many of these people will be persuaded to take the plunge. But what if a significant proportion still refuse? Where would this leave us? Could the NHS cope?
Much remains uncertain, but it's going to be important to keep a watchful eye on any changes in vaccination rates within the NHS over the coming months, to evaluate how acute the impact could be.
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Have you been affected by a ‘no jab, no job’ policy? Are you thinking of introducing one within your business? If you need our help, please get in touch.