'Catastrophic consequences': Hundreds of unvaccinated could lose work at Homerton Hospital
- Credit: PA
A Homerton Hospital midwife has warned mandatory vaccinations could have “catastrophic consequences”, with 38 out of 200 midwives currently unvaccinated.
MPs voted to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all patient-facing health and social workers. The policy is set to come into effect on April 1.
Staff will need to have had their first dose by February 3 to comply.
The midwife Jane, whose name has been changed, said the plans are “coercive” and undermine informed consent, which is a core principle in midwifery and across the medical field.
She told the Gazette: “Everything we offer to women we have to make sure they understand it and then we let them make up their minds – whether we agree or not.
“But we are now in a position where we are not being given the choice. A lot of us just feel really disrespected by it.”
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called for the plans to be delayed “immediately”, citing “chronic understaffing” for maternity services, with a shortfall of around 2,000 midwives in the UK.
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The Royal College of Nursing and Unite have also voiced opposition to the law as well as a leaked Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) document casting doubt over its “rationality” and “proportionality” – the Guardian reported.
More than 70,000 NHS staff could lose their jobs nationwide.
Six per cent of staff at Homerton Hospital remain unvaccinated currently, a reduction from 10pc before Christmas, the Homerton reports.
With more than 4,000 staff at the trust, around 240 healthcare workers could lose their jobs.
Jane says maternity services already “didn’t cope well” when 15 people were off sick during the Omicron wave.
“We had midwives working double shifts. So you would work a day shift and they would send you home for a few hours and then you would come back and do a night shift – that’s dangerous.”
She says there has been a lot of “emotion, anguish and anxiety” for midwives, some having worked at Homerton Hospital for 20 or 30 years.
“I wouldn’t call any of us anti-vax, we’re more about choice,” she added.
“There are quite a few midwives with underlying conditions, who have a family history of blood clots and other issues like strokes and they are worried.
"And it’s almost impossible to get an exemption.”
The midwife warned: “Women don’t know what’s coming.
“When you come to have your baby, instead of having one midwife for each woman, the midwife might be looking after two or three women.”
A spokesperson for Homerton Hospital said the trust is supporting unvaccinated colleagues: "A number of midwife colleagues remain unvaccinated and we are continuing discussions with each individual.”
The hospital says “at this stage” it is difficult to anticipate how many unvaccinated staff will be suitable for redeployment opportunities
They added: “We hope that, following further discussion and consideration, those staff who have had doubts or any hesitation will be persuaded to have the vaccine.
“This was certainly the case in November when a number of our care workers at Mary Seacole Nursing Home, which we manage, who had previously refused vaccination, subsequently agreed to be vaccinated."
An unvaccinated Hackney resident, who preferred not to be named, will be wearing blue at a rally in Central London tomorrow (January 22) in opposition to the government mandate.
She questions why naturally acquired immunity is not being considered for NHS staff, many of whom would have caught Covid during the pandemic and could have antibodies.
"I disagree with people being forced to do something. Especially in Hackney, the uptake for the vaccine is really low and people are almost told off for making a decision.
"We have been in [the pandemic] for two years now, whoever wanted go for the vaccine would go for it."
Hackney has some of the lowest rates of vaccine uptake in the country.
Dr Jagan John, chair of NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The NHS has always been clear that having the life-saving covid vaccine is the best way of protecting yourself against the virus."
Dr John adds that "the overwhelming majority" of NHS staff, nine in 10 have had their second jab.
"[We] will continue to support and encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated to take up the offer of the first and second doses," he said.