Compulsory vaccine rule for NHS staff could hit some regions harder than others, figures show

NHS staff in London have the lowest take-up of the jab, with one in eight still unvaccinated, figures show. The Government has announced plans to make the vaccine compulsory for frontline NHS workers.

Uptake of the Covid vaccine among NHS staff varies widely by region, official figures show.

London has the lowest rate, with one in eight NHS staff unvaccinated, raising fears that making the jabs compulsory could cause a staffing crisis.

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Frontline NHS staff in England will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid by the spring, health secretary Sajid Javid announced today.

He told the Commons that the requirement would be enforced from April 1 next year, if Parliament agrees, to give unvaccinated staff time to get both doses.

He said: “We must avoid preventable harm and protect patients in the NHS, protect colleagues in the NHS and, of course, protect the NHS itself.”

Unison, the union which represents nearly half a million healthcare workers, warned the move could leave the NHS short-staffed.

Head of health Sara Gorton said: “Forcing jabs in care homes has prompted an unprecedented staffing crisis. The Government risks making the same mistake twice.

“Practical alternatives like daily testing used in other countries should have been considered.”

About 103,000 NHS staff were still unvaccinated on October 31, some 7% of the workforce, official figures show.

But uptake varies widely by region, with 12.3% of staff in London unvaccinated compared to just 5.1% in the North East and Yorkshire.

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It is not just London’s NHS staff which have a low vaccination rate - the capital also has one of the country’s lowest uptake rates among the public.

According to the Office for National Statistics, reluctance to get vaccinated is more common among young people, those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds and those living in disadvantaged areas.

Health bosses have have said this may explain higher vaccine hesitancy in London, with its young and diverse population.

The issue is even starker when looking at individual NHS trusts, raising the prospect that some trusts will be hit far harder than others by the new rules.

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust has the lowest vaccination rate among its staff of any English trust, with 16% of its staff unvaccinated on September 30, the latest date at which trust-level figures were published.

In contrast, just 3% of staff at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust were unvaccinated.

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