UK News Will NHS jab refuseniks get new jobs in Wales?
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Wales could recruit NHS workers from England who lose their jobs because they refuse to be jabbed.
Labour’s Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said he would ‘not rule out’ hiring unvaccinated workers from across the border.
Vaccines are not compulsory forstaff in Wales because a ‘vast majority’ of workers have taken up the ‘protections that vaccination offers’, he said.
When asked if he would take on NHS staff from England, Mr Drakeford told the: ‘I don’t expect us to go looking for people who have not been vaccinated but, if people apply, then they would be interviewed the normal way.
‘We’d look to see what lay behind their decision. We wouldn’t rule them out but we certainly wouldn’t go out there looking for them.’
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There is no jabs mandate for NHS staff in Scotland either, raising the prospect that staff who can no longer work in the NHS in England because they do not meet the vaccination requirements could simply head north to secure a job.
Mr Drakeford’s comments followed claims that England’s mandatory jab deadline could be delayed by six months to avoid a sudden exodus of staff.
All front-line workers are required to have had two vaccines by April 1 but more than 80,000 – 6 per cent of the workforce – are not fully vaccinated.
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Those who do not comply risk losing their jobs or being moved to non-patient-facing roles.
Ministers are considering last-minute plans to push the deadline back by half a year, in a bid to avoid mass staff shortages, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
While some health bodies have welcomed news of a possible delay, others say it is ‘not the answer’.
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Martin Marshall, the chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said mandatory vaccination for NHS workers in England was ‘not the right way forward’ and barring tens of thousands of staff from the workplace could have ‘massive consequences’ for the health service.
Mr Marshall said a delay to the April deadline would allow time for booster jabs and a ‘sensible conversation’ about whether vaccines should be compulsory.
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Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, echoed the concerns, saying: ‘Nothing matters more to a nurse than caring for their patients safely.
‘Right now, our members are telling me they can’t always do that.
‘We are calling on the Government to recognise this risk and delay a move which by its own calculations looks to backfire.
‘To dismiss valued nursing staff during this crisis would be an act of self-sabotage.’
The Royal College of Midwives also called for a delay to mandatory vaccination plans over fears of a ‘catastrophic impact on maternity services’.
But NHS Providers – which represents all NHS trusts in England – said trust leaders had backed the mandatory jabs policy.
Deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said: ‘Some organisations are calling for a delay in the implementation of this policy but we don’t think that is the answer.
‘Our survey of trust leaders found that while there was a range of views towards a policy of mandatory vaccinations, a majority backed this policy as a means of protecting colleagues, patients, and visitors from cross infection by unvaccinated staff.’
On Saturday, NHS workers joined anti-vaxxers across the country as they protested against mandatory jab rules. In London, dozens of health workers were seen throwing their scrubs at police outside Downing Street, while others laid down their uniforms in Trafalgar Square. Government sources said there was currently no change in position on the jab deadline date.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘Health and social care workers look after the most vulnerable people in society, who could face serious health consequences if exposed to the virus.
‘Ensuring staff are vaccinated is the right thing to do to protect patients and those in care. The vast majority of NHS staff have had the vaccine which is our best defence against Covid-19.’
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