'Nail-biting situation': Hundreds of Homerton's staff at risk of dismissal over Covid vaccines

NHS workers laid down their scrubs at a protest against mandatory vaccination in central London

NHS workers laid down their scrubs at a protest against mandatory vaccination in central London - Credit: Supplied

Hundreds of local hospital workers could be at risk of dismissal as the deadline for mandatory Covid vaccines approaches.

Currently, 342 frontline staff at the Homerton Hospital have not had their first jab.

They need to have it by February 3 if they are to be fully vaccinated by the government’s March 31 deadline – or they face dismissal.

Frontline health workers, including volunteers and care home staff, have to be fully vaccinated against Covid.

There are 181 staff who are yet to have their second vaccination.

Sir John Gieve, who chairs the board of directors, said: “This is a national requirement and we have to implement it.”

He added: “It’s a nail-biting situation.”

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The hospital is holding open meetings with groups of staff to discuss their concerns and help as many as possible get vaccinated and keep their jobs. It has also hired an external company to talk to them.

Affected staff have also been sent letters from chief executive Tracey Fletcher and the HR department, and will also get one before the deadline passes for them to get the first jab.

“I don’t think any of us came into the NHS to dismiss large numbers of people,” the hospital’s director of people Tom Nettel said.

He explained that staff in jeopardy of dismissal will have given a lot of thought to not being vaccinated given the high stakes involved.

The numbers have gone down from the 415 who were unvaccinated in December.

Nettel told the hospital’s board meeting that it will try to redeploy people if possible, but they would have to go through recruitment processes and their pay would not be protected.

Some employees believe they are exempt from having the Covid vaccination and they have to go through a national system.

Fletcher told the board: “It’s an area of concern. We still have a long way to go in quite a short period of time.”

The hospital may have to bring in temporary staff if it loses hundreds of workers.

A Hackney mid-wife who is unvaccinated and preferred not to be named said last week that the consequences of the "no jab, no job" policy could be "catastrophic".