Guest article: A shot and a hard place – BHTA asserts mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for health and social care staff is only half the solution

Guest article: A shot and a hard place – BHTA asserts mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for health and social care staff is only half the solution

On the 10th November 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that– from 1st April 2022– all frontline health and social care workers in England should be fully immunized against COVID-19 as a condition of deployment (unless clinically exempt), after an assessment on the problem.

This extends a similar decision to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for anyone volunteering or working in a care home (once again, unless medically exempt) from 11th November 2021.

In this short article, William Lee, Policy & & Parliamentary Executive at the British Health Care Trades Association (BHTA), discusses how the government needs to back up its decision to present mandatory vaccination with economic support for health and social care providers in the occasion of disruption, and clarify some important points.

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This argument is essential, certainly it even divides viewpoint among individual NHS employees; nevertheless, to echo a position detailed in a recent British Medical Journal opinion, it is a luxury we can not afford right now “… as this pandemic has shown, the problem with waiting on more info is that postponing action expenses lives [and] there comes a time when a decision needs to be made, even with insufficient or imperfect details.”

The BHTA comprehends the governments choice to require necessary vaccination, and we concur with the governments desire to take all necessary actions to safeguard both health care workers and the public during this pandemic. The BHTA believes the federal governments statement only covers half the option, and fails to address the important remaining half: support for any potential negative economic fallout as a result of the choice.

To state that obligatory vaccination divides opinion is an understatement, specifically given that the dispute is normally framed as a dispute between individual freedoms (to accept or decline the vaccine) and collective protection. The general public, and the health care workers who safeguard them, are at the most affordable risk of severe disease when as lots of people as possible are immunized.

Thankfully, the government does not need to look far for just such an example of a severe, sweeping, mandatory public health procedure (lockdown) matched by financial measures specifically created to ensure its uptake/efficacy (the furlough scheme).

On behalf of all of our members in the health and social care sector, BHTA contacts the government to deal with the financial procedures required and:

– Respond to industry issues around complicated legal concerns arising from workforce implementation impacts of necessary COVID-19 vaccination

Companies in the health and social care arena (consisting of BHTA in its reaction to the consultation above) have actually cautioned the government of serious legal issues concerning existing employees who decline the vaccine. Varying from staff member claims of unjust termination to compulsory re-deployment to business inability to fulfill legal commitments due to ex-post-facto application of vaccine guidelines, nevertheless, these issues have, up until now, not been dealt with. Clearness and support from the government on legal issues would enable health and social care employers– currently struggling with soaring operating costs, increased tax and payroll costs, and loss of staff to other, less difficult employment– to prepare for and run in a “brand-new vaccine normal.”

– Commit to keeping COVID-19 vaccines totally free for as long they remain a condition of release in any setting/sector

Numerous employers are worried that, in the future, they will have to pay of vaccinating workers against COVID-19, and keeping them up to date with any recommended boosters. If the federal government chooses to stop moneying complimentary vaccines, there must be guarantees provided that COVID-19 vaccines will remain totally free and easily available to all companies whose personnel are needed to be immunized as a condition of frontline deployment.

– Establish– or extend– monetary support for health and social care organizations to deal with the workforce effects of necessary COVID-19 vaccination

There will doubtless be some staff members– ideally, an extremely little percentage– who decline the vaccine but still have experience and skills valuable to companies in specific, and the health and social care sector in general. Again, in the mould of previous programs aimed at supplying financial assistance for services affected by COVID-19, health and social care organizations might better assist the huge majority of frontline employees decide to get the vaccine– and continue to provide the best quality and quantity of frontline assistance to clients– if they themselves are supported in retaining vaccine-hesitant workers who can still contribute positively. With quotes of NHS jobs at 90,000 and social care vacancies at approximately c. 100,000, targeted monetary support for health and care sector businesses to assist staff member retention is sorely required.

– Set out clearly why the government has not considered– or considered and decided versus– options to mandatory vaccination

There will doubtless be some employees– ideally, an extremely small percentage– who refuse the vaccine but still have experience and skills valuable to organizations in particular, and the health and social care sector in basic. Once again, in the mould of previous programmes aimed at offering monetary assistance for companies impacted by COVID-19, health and social care organizations might much better assist the huge bulk of frontline workers decide to get the vaccine– and continue to offer the finest quality and amount of frontline support to clients– if they themselves are supported in maintaining vaccine-hesitant workers who can still contribute favorably. With estimates of NHS vacancies at 90,000 and social care jobs at up to c. 100,000, targeted financial assistance for health and care sector services to aid worker retention is sorely needed.

The BHTA and its members stand all set to support the federal government in its efforts to protect the public and frontline health and care workers. It is vital that the government follows, and addresses, the issues raised to make sure that the effect of this decision does not prevent health and social care providers ability to provide the finest possible care to all.

A number of those opposed to necessary vaccination (such as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) indicate the existence of options like everyday lateral circulation screening and ask why these are not released rather of obligatory vaccination. The federal governments reaction to the assessment acknowledges these options, but does not set out clearly why obligatory vaccination is the preferred choice; doing so would clarify the choice for vaccination and more reinforce the argument for vaccine uptake that federal government is, in big step, asking employers to make to workers on federal governments behalf.

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Employers in the health and social care arena (consisting of BHTA in its action to the assessment above) have warned the government of severe legal concerns regarding existing staff members who decline the vaccine. Clarity and support from the government on legal issues would allow health and social care employers– currently struggling with skyrocketing running expenses, increased tax and payroll bills, and loss of personnel to other, less stressful work– to prepare for and operate in a “brand-new vaccine typical.”

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