'Two jabs or no job' ultimatum could force 500 staff to quit Northamptonshire hospitals, warn government analysts

Impact statement suggests 4.9 percent of workforce still could refuse vaccinations

By Kevin Nicholls
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 2:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 2:20 pm

Government analysts say a 'no-jabs, no-job' rule for the NHS could leave Northamptonshire's two main hospitals with up to 500 fewer staff.

Health secretary Sajid Javid announced on Tuesday (November 9) that vaccination would become a 'condition of deployment' for social care workers and frontline NHS employees from April.

Yet the government's own impact statement published at the same time revealed that up to 73,000 NHS workers — 4.9 percent of the workforce — may still refuse to get vaccinated.

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Government analysts fear up to 500 staff at NGH and KGH could have to leave by next April

October's NHS England figures showed out of 8,099 healthcare staff at Northampton General Hospital (NGH), 823 had not received a first jab.

Another 477 staff out of 5,854 at Kettering General Hospital (KGH) were still unvaccinated.

One NHS worker posted on this newspaper's Facebook page: "I am not vaccinated because I choose not to. I don't care what everyone else says, it is my body, I am a free person and I have every right to choose. My last day will be April 1."

Another posted: "I work for the NHS and I am vaccinated — but this is crazy!

"People are genuinely afraid of having the vaccine and there will probably be an exodus of frontline staff just when the NHS is facing the biggest staff retention crisis it’s ever had."

Record numbers of people are already on waiting lists at the two hospitals, more than 45,000. Yet government analysts say the impact on workforce levels of making jabs mandatory 'could be significant'.

They warned 'any reduction' in workforce numbers 'may lead to reduced or delayed services' while also pointing out the health system is 'currently stretched'.

The impact statement adds, under a 'central scenario', that the 'potential impacts' of the policy could mean 126,000 health and care staff remain unvaccinated. This consists of 73,000 NHS staff – 4.9 percent of the workforce – along with 15,000 in the private health sector and 38,000 in social care, according to the analysis.

It goes on: "If a proportion of staff decides to leave the NHS, this would put pressure on NHS services."

Mr Javid told MPs: "We must avoid preventable harm and protect patients in the NHS, protect colleagues in the NHS and of course protect the NHS itself."

Around 700 residential care workers across Northamptonshire are already facing the axe on Thursday (November 11) after failing to meet a government deadline for being fully vaccinated.

West Northamptonshire Council leaders have joined local NHS chiefs in warning that staff shortfalls could prevent thousands of people from being discharged from hospitals this winter, limiting admissions and clogging up wards.

They say it will increase pressure on remaining care staff to work longer hours, despite many being already exhausted, and have called on the government to urgently provide more funding.