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Hospital Trust bosses ‘not progressing’ with mandatory vaccine policy

Sherwood Forest Hospitals has halted work on ensuring all its frontline staff have received the Covid vaccination after the Government paused plans to make the jab mandatory.

However, the trust says it is continuing to hold “person-centred” conversations with employees who are yet to take up the vaccine, with bosses also checking staff records to ensure they are aware of who is yet to be jabbed.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this week there are plans to scrap the rule that all frontline NHS staff must be Covid vaccinated and a consultation is being launched.

It means any NHS staff who are patient-facing but have still not had the vaccine can keep their jobs, provided Parliamentary approval is won following the consultation.

Hundreds of NHS workers in the county could have been sacked over the requirement – including staff at Nottinghamshire’s two largest hospital trusts.

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Hospital workers who were yet to take up the vaccine had until this week to receive their first jab under the initial plans, with a second dose required by April to protect them from losing their job.

Union bosses estimated about 1,600 people were yet to have one dose at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH), which runs Queen’s Medical Centre and the City Hospital, as of mid-January.

But the trust confirmed last week this number had fallen dramatically, with 281 members of the trust’s 16,000-strong workforce unvaccinated as of January 27.

At Sherwood Forest Hospital Trust (SFH), which runs King’s Mill, Newark and Mansfield Community Hospitals, less than five per cent of the trust’s 5,000-strong workforce remain unvaccinated, a director confirmed this week.

However, speaking at a board meeting on Thursday (3 February), SFH’s director of people Clare Teeney told directors the trust is now halting any work to ensure staff are vaccinated.

“The piece of work we’ve been focused on recently is around the mandated vaccinations for health and care staff,” she said.

“Colleagues will be aware there has been a pause in some of that, the Secretary of State announced the [Government] is going out for some wider consultation around whether the vaccination should be mandated or not.

“In the meantime, we are not progressing in terms of it being a mandated vaccination.

“But what we are doing is continuing to have person-centred conversations with colleagues who haven’t had a vaccination to try and support people to have one.

“We are also validating records, we’ve still got some records where we can’t see whether people are vaccinated or not.

“The response of colleagues at Sherwood to having a vaccination has been really good throughout the programme, and we have got more than 95 per cent of colleagues who are vaccinated.”

The Government’s decision was welcomed by union bosses and council leaders when it was confirmed earlier this week.

Jamie Godber, Unison’s NUH branch secretary said: “We welcome this move because if we can save people’s jobs, that’s the ideal. It’s a relief for us and our members and it takes the pressure off.

“We are still cautious about the future because they’ve not set anything in stone yet.

“They [the Government] have committed to reviewing but they’ve not said outright that they won’t do it.

“I am going to look into those people who had the vaccine who were sort of forced into it before the deadline to see if there are any routes we can take with that legally.”

Cllr Ben Bradley (Con), Mansfield MP and leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, also welcomed the move.

He said: “It’s important for the service and all those individual members of staff who have grafted throughout the most high-risk period of the pandemic to know that they are secure in their jobs going forward.”

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