SoR Update: Compulsory Covid-19 Vaccinations

Read about our position on the Government's plan to introduce compulsory Covid-19 vaccination for all NHS staff in England.

Published: 26 January 2022 Government & NHS

We believe that the programme to introduce the mandatory vaccination is likely to result in increased burden on service management and pressure on already compromised staffing numbers.

In partnership with other healthcare unions, the Society is therefore requesting that the Department of Health and Social Care delay the implementation to allow more time for the necessary local discussions.


The Government have indicated they will be proceeding with introducing compulsory Covid vaccination for all NHS staff in England in frontline patient facing roles from 1st April 2022. Despite universal opposition to the compulsion principle from unions across health and most other professional bodies and employer groups responding to their consultation, this will now almost certainly become the legal position, with legislation passing through Parliament currently. Employers have been notified of this requirement and will be starting preparations to meet this requirement imminently.

The position in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is less clear. The devolved administrations have previously rejected the principle of compulsory vaccinations. However, especially with several European countries considering compulsion for all citizens, this position could change at any point.

The SoR is opposed to the principle of compulsion as we would always support persuasion. We are worried that staff whom the vaccine presents a genuine medical risk could be isolated and face discrimination.

However, it is important to be clear that the SoR and all unions and professional associations support vaccinations and have and are continuing to encourage everyone who does not have a clear medical exemption to be fully vaccinated.

Despite concerns about compulsion we all recognise there is a serious concern in many parts of the NHS where vaccination rates amongst frontline staff have plateaued. Staff working unvaccinated is contributing to the ongoing high sickness rates and the staffing crisis in radiography and all health professions. Staff who have been vaccinated and are taking all precautions to minimise the risks to themselves, their families, and patients are also stressed by the risks presented by colleagues who remain unvaccinated.

The SoR recognise the science and maths around the pandemic. We have a duty to counter any mis information and actively encourage colleagues to get fully vaccinated unless it is genuinely unsafe for them to do so – in which case the legislation will exempt them.

The SoR position is therefore:

  • Represent members who have not been vaccinated to make sure those who have genuine exemptions are protected and their employment secured, without risk of wider discrimination.
  • Support Representatives and members as far as it is reasonable for us to do so as compulsion is introduced. This will include:
    • Supporting members who have not been vaccinated and advising them of their rights, recognising the limits the law affords.
    • Support Representatives and Manager members tasked with encouraging colleagues to take up the vaccine where they have not already done so. We will also support any members facing harassment or bullying from any individual or group that opposes vaccination.
  • Be realistic and honest in relation to the support and representation we can afford to those who choose to remain unvaccinated without any genuine medical exemption. Alternative posts are likely to be taken by those who have clear medical exemptions.

The introduction of legislation forces the Employers’ hand and if someone refuses to engage in the vaccination process between now and April 2022 they could be deemed to be in breach of their contract and be deemed to have dismissed themselves. There will be very little if anything that the SoR could do to prevent this dismissal or challenge them via Employment Tribunals.

Members with concerns who would want to access our support can do so via their local SoR Representatives, their Regional Officer or via an email tagged Vaccination Support to [email protected].

All members but especially Representative and manager members are also urged to regularly check our website for updates, more detailed support and advice on these issues as events progress.

Further information 

The following links provide general and specific advice on vaccinations: