How many NHS workers in the South West are unvaccinated - as frontline staff face being told to get the jab

The Government is expected to make the vaccine mandatory for frontline NHS staff

Thousands of NHS workers are still not vaccinated against Covid in the South WestThousands of NHS workers are still not vaccinated against Covid in the South West
Thousands of NHS workers are still not vaccinated against Covid in the South West

Frontline NHS staff are set to be forced to have both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine by next spring.

The Government is expected to confirm the deadline later today (9 November), with the rule applying to healthcare staff in England.

NHS officials said they expect the move to happen, which will affect thousands of unvaccinated staff, as between 80,000 and 100,000 healthcare workers in NHS England are still yet to have their jab.

It follows the rule made for care home workers in England earlier this year who have already been told they must be fully vaccinated by the deadline of Thursday 11 November.

How many NHS workers are vaccinated in the South West?

In the South West there are 145,511 NHS trust healthcare workers, including frontline staff.

Out of those, 135,008 have received two doses of a Covid vaccine, while 138,410 have received one dose.

It means 7,101 NHS workers in the South West have not had a first dose - five per cent.

While 10,503 staff members are not fully vaccinated - seven per cent.

What is the vaccine deadline for frontline NHS staff?

The vaccination deadline for frontline NHS staff is expected to be confirmed later on today, but the Department of Health has refused to comment on speculation around the timing of the announcement.

However, Whitehall sources told the BBC that staff will be given “until spring” to get their first and second doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

It is still unclear whether the announcement will include hundreds of thousands of social care staff, working outside of care homes, who are still yet to be fully vaccinated.

Almost a quarter (23.3%) of staff working in younger adult care homes and domiciliary care providers have not been reported as being fully jabbed as of 31 October, according to NHS England figures. This amounts to 116,871 members of staff.

Additionally, tens of thousands of care home staff were not recorded as being double jabbed as of 31 October, meaning they are set to lose their jobs this week.

Care groups are calling for the mandatory vaccine policy to be axed or delayed to allow providers to get through winter without more staff being forced to leave.

Who are frontline health workers?

The Government is yet to confirm who the mandatory vaccine will apply to, but it is expected to include all staff who work directly with the public.

This would include the following NHS workers:

  • doctors
  • nurses
  • midwives
  • paramedics
  • pharmacists
  • social and care workers

Why will vaccination be made compulsory?

The decision to make vaccination compulsory comes following a consultation which started in September, which considered whether both the Covid-19 and flu jabs should be mandatory for all frontline healthcare staff.

It is understood that only the Covid-19 vaccine will be made mandatory and exemptions will be in place for staff who cannot have the jab for medical reasons.

No proposals to make jabs mandatory for NHS workers or care home staff in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet been made.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said he believes that if the rule is approached in England in the right way, it could help to boost vaccine take-up.

Mr Hopson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you look at other nations that have done this, there is no doubt that if you do it carefully, at the point when you announce the fact that you are going to have mandatory vaccinations in the sector, it does provide quite a useful opportunity to then have those kind of further conversations.

“So, if we get it right, actually, it could be quite a useful spur in some senses to drive the take-up up, but the bit that we just need to be careful of, as I said, is avoiding scapegoating people.

“The problem for both social care and the NHS is we run these systems incredibly hot on very, very fine margins. Both of us have got around 90 to 100,000 vacancies.

“We are completely reliant on our staff to … work extra shifts in order to do the work that needs to be done.

“So losing significant numbers of staff, particularly given the pressure that both of the systems are under at the moment, is a real, real problem.

“And that’s why we’re very clear with the Government they need to help us manage this risk.”

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said that vaccination rates are already high across the NHS and called for ministers to invest their efforts in boosting voluntary take-up instead of making a compulsory order.

She said: “Instead of compulsion, ministers should be looking at redoubling their efforts to boost voluntary take-up, which is already more than 90%.

“Mandatory jabs in social care have prompted an unprecedented staffing crisis.

“The Government should be careful not to make the same mistake twice. It should also consider practical alternatives like daily testing.”