The government says it plans to scrap laws that would force healthcare workers to be vaccinated against coronavirus.
It has launched a public consultation on the move which will allow interested parties to complete an online survey to express their views.
In an announcement, ministers said:’...the view of this government is that it is no longer proportionate to require vaccination as a condition of deployment through statute in health, care homes or other social care settings.”
The statement goes on: “When vaccination as a condition of deployment was first introduced, Delta was the dominant variant. Omicron has now replaced Delta as the dominant variant, representing up to 99% of cases across some regions. While Omicron still presents a threat to public health, especially for those that are unvaccinated, relative to Delta, it is intrinsically less severe.”
Dean Rogers, the Society’s Executive Director of Industrial Strategy and Member Relations, welcomed the move away from mandatory vaccination.
"Whilst supporting the vaccination and wanting to encourage members to access the vaccine programme we do not believe that compulsion and coercion are effective ways to persuade people with reservations,” he said.
Rogers criticised the government for its approach to compulsory vaccination and accused it of introducing divisive measures to address the impact of the pandemic on services.
“The measure was also very poorly timed. Many members are physically and mentally drained by their efforts during the pandemic. The dangers of the staffing crisis that pre-dated the pandemic are also exposed for all to see. Political rhetoric around addressing NHS backlogs is also undermining morale. In this context, any moves that divide staff are toxic and will make it harder to retain professionals the NHS cannot afford to lose,” he said
“We therefore support the climb down and will use the consultation to urge the government to remove this option from the statute, whilst urging employers to respond in ways that heal the division between staff rather than embed it.”
The SoR will respond to the consultation accordingly. The previously stated UK Council position on vaccination [link] remains unchanged