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Scrapping of mandatory Covid vaccines for healthcare staff saves over 1,000 South Lincolnshire jobs

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The jobs of more than 1,000 healthcare workers serving South Lincolnshire have been saved after plans for mandatory Covid vaccinations were halted.

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, was set to meet with ministers yesterday (Monday) to make the decision official.

Prior to the U-turn, thousands of staff across the country were set to lose their jobs - with a February 3 deadline for workers to receive their first jab.

Mandatory Covid vaccines for healthcare staff have been scrapped
Mandatory Covid vaccines for healthcare staff have been scrapped

NHS England data from January 13 suggested that the five hospital trusts South Lincolnshire residents can attend would have lost 1,084 staff between them.

South Holland District Councillor Glynis Scalese, who works with the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire, welcomed the decision to scrap the mandate.

“It’s fantastic news. It will improve the situation,” she said.

“It’s brilliant news for people that won’t have been able to work. Now they can go back, and it’s excellent for the public.

“It’s ever so important, and it’s just what we needed.”

Coun Scalese believes positive discussions about the vaccine will be much more effective in increasing jab numbers, with most trusts already having uptake rates of well over 90%.

“I think encouragement and giving people the facts about the vaccine is important,” she said.

“Some people are just scared, and at the end of the day people who are really vulnerable and can’t have it are a different conversation.

“I don’t see any reason why people shouldn’t be taking it if it’s going to save lives.

“We take the flu vaccine willingly, don’t we?”

Mel Kerr, the vice chair of the Royal College of Nursing and a council member for the East Midlands, also spoke of her relief at the decision.

She said: “This is fantastic news, but now the Government needs to focus on health education to strongly encourage vaccination whilst supporting staff through that process and also addressing the staffing shortages within the NHS.”

The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, had been set to lose 341 of its 9,494 staff.

The Lincolnshire Community Health Services and Lincolnshire Partnership trusts had 73 and 89 unvaccinated staff respectively, while the North West Anglia trust would have lost 356 of 7,918 health workers.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn can now keep the 225 staff members who would have lost their jobs.

Speaking last week before the mandate had been reversed, Coun Scalese said: “It will be devastating to the NHS if that happens, because we’re short even now of nurses and consultants and doctors.

“The waiting times for appointments will become awful. I’m hoping it doesn’t happen.

“Most people are wondering what’s going to happen to patients and the appointments people go to. There will be longer waiting lists, which could end lives for some people.

“Especially for people with cancer who need to be seen, every appointment is valuable.

“We’re all in the same category. I’m waiting for appointments, everybody I speak to is waiting.

“I’ll be very sad if people start losing their jobs. On the other hand, I’ve heard people saying they should be ashamed of themselves for not taking it.

“Some people have got reasons, so it’s difficult.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed that something happens.”

Miss Kerr echoed Coun Scalese’s sentiment that positive encouragement should be the appointed route, rather than imposing a strict mandate.

“I’ll always strongly endorse people having the vaccine. I’ve had it myself, and I’ll always recommend for anyone on the fence to have it,” she said.

“I believe that is an individual’s choice, and to then legislate that they must have it as part of their employment requirements is not the right approach at all.

“We are now in a situation where staff are in a predicament of acting against their beliefs, which we would never ask a patient to do. So why are we asking staff?”

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