Mandatory jabs could deal 'big hit' to east London NHS staffing, says health boss

File photo dated 31/07/21 of a person receiving a Covid-19 jab. Unions are warning of "catastrophic"

By April 2022, nearly all of the North East London Foundation NHS Trust's 6,500 staff must be fully vaccinated - Credit: PA

Health staff numbers in east London could be dealt a “big hit” by making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory, an NHS leader has warned. 

Nine in ten staff are already vaccinated at North East London Foundation NHS Trust (NELFT), which provides community and mental health services across east London. 

However, by April 2022, nearly all of the trust’s 6,500 staff must be fully vaccinated, following a government decision earlier this month. 

This requirement could cause a significant drop in staff numbers, NELFT’s medical director Dr Caroline Allum told a board meeting on Tuesday, November 23. 

She said: “We sat down and did a big survey about the impact vaccinations would have; we went back to [NHS England] to say we could see there being a big hit back on the staffing side.” 

The government’s compulsory measures apply to staff who have direct, face-to-face contact with patients while providing care, unless they are exempt. 

Union representative Ubaidal Hoque asked members whether they were voicing their concerns enough. 

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He warned: “I think we will have an acute shortage of staffing if we don’t have some pushback on the ground level.” 

A report prepared for the board identifies staffing levels as the highest risk faced by the trust, adding the “talent pipeline” is not producing enough healthcare professionals. 

Opening the meeting, NELFT’s chief executive said 88 per cent of staff are vaccinated and the trust is “working through guidance” on which staff might be exempt. 

He added: “Our performance report shows demand has gone up, acuity has gone up, all that is in the context of a pressured workforce.

 "It’s difficult out there and a lot of our colleagues are tired. 

“There remains a real pressure on our services, it’s really important that we maintain our wellbeing and support for colleagues across the organisation.” 

The chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), earlier this month said some unvaccinated staff had “rational concerns” about the jab

Matthew Trainer said he had spoken to women who were interested in the vaccine’s potential impact on their fertility. 

"The other thing we've got to realise is some people are genuinely a bit frightened about what it might do to them and what it might feel like,” he said.

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