LEAD members of the British Medical Association(BMA) reckon it is going to be difficult to get all NHS staff on a mandatory vaccine list.
Mandatory vaccination for NHS staff is an incredibly complex issue that could raise many ethical, legal and practical questions.
Therefore, the Government proposals are put out to a proper consultation, during which time staff and representatives are given an opportunity to contribute.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “As the trade union and professional body for doctors, the BMA will of course be discussing this issue with our members and responding in full to the consultation.
“While some healthcare workers already need to be immunised or show they are not infectious with other diseases to work in certain areas, any specific proposal for the compulsory vaccination of healthcare staff against Covid-19 would raise new ethical and legal implications.
“Doctors want the vaccine programme to be a success as much as anyone, recognising the instrumental role widespread vaccine coverage will have in stemming the spread of Covid-19, preventing serious illness and saving lives. In turn, this will also reduce pressure on the health service and in time hopefully allow for more restrictions on all of our lives to be eased.”
Recent research has highlighted that pressurising health and social care workers can have damaging effects, leading to an erosion of trust, worsening concerns about the vaccine and hardened stances on declining vaccination.
Dr Nagpaul added: “Doctors naturally want to be protected against this potentially lethal infection that has already taken far too many lives, including hundreds of their colleagues’, so those who do decline a vaccine are unlikely to do so lightly.
“That there appears to be lower uptake among people from certain ethnic backgrounds needs serious consideration, and any policy on mandatory vaccination for staff must not be discriminatory.
“Therefore, efforts should be focused on targeted engagement and possible alternative mitigations against transmission for those who are not vaccinated – something that has been reinforced in recent NHS guidance.
“Crucially, doctors who have faced such a gruelling year, and may have given decades of their lives to the NHS, must not now or in future face losing their jobs for declining a vaccine.”