NHS staff protest mandatory vaccinations outside Queen's Hospital

BHRUT staff and their supporters held a demonstration outside Queen's Hospital in opposition to mandatory vaccination.

BHRUT staff and their supporters held a demonstration outside Queen's Hospital in opposition to the government-imposed vaccine mandate. - Credit: Daniel Gayne

Unvaccinated NHS staff and their supporters held a demonstration outside Queen’s Hospital. 

According to organisers, roughly 100 health workers from Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs the hospital, attended the protest on January 21 against the government’s policy of mandatory vaccination of NHS workers. 

From April 1, staff who have not received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will lose their jobs. 

As of January 14, 1,165 of BHRUT’s 7,538 staff (15.4 per cent) are recorded as having not yet been vaccinated, including 70 of the trust’s 300 midwives. 

70 of the trust’s 300 midwives have not been vaccinated.

70 of the trust’s 300 midwives have not been vaccinated. - Credit: Daniel Gayne

Practice development nurse Donna Axford told the Recorder: “None of us are anti-vaccination at all. I’ve had all of my childhood immunisations; I’ve had other vaccinations in the past." 

The 32-year-old, who has worked at BHRUT for 11 years, said she had “weighed up the pros and cons with the vaccine” and decided “it is not for me”. 

Practice development nurse Donna Axford

Practice development nurse Donna Axford - Credit: Daniel Gayne

Mary Goidescu, currently a student pharmacy technician, had a job lined up at the trust, but will likely be unable to take it up as she has not been vaccinated. 

“Knowing that I can’t do what I’ve been working hard for in the last few years; I’ve been crying myself to sleep,” she said. 

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She said she had “no plan B” if she loses her job, but insisted she would not give in to “coercion”. 

Mary Goidescu, currently a student pharmacy technician

Mary Goidescu, currently a student pharmacy technician - Credit: Daniel Gayne

Andrea O’Brien, whose parents are regular patients at the hospital.

Andrea O’Brien, whose parents are regular patients at the hospital. - Credit: Daniel Gayne

Andrea O’Brien, who brings her sick parents to the hospital multiple times every week, said she was concerned about the impact of a mass lay-off on the hospital’s service. 

She said: “If they get rid of staff here, their [Andrea's parents] health will deteriorate."

She added while she herself had been vaccinated, she believed “people have the right to say yes or no".

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Health and social care workers look after the most vulnerable people in society, who could face serious health consequences if exposed to the virus. 

"Ensuring staff are vaccinated is the right thing to do to protect patients and those in care. The vast majority of NHS staff have had the vaccine, which is our best defence against Covid-19.” 

BHRUT chief executive Matthew Trainer said he understood the concerns some staff had about mandatory vaccination. 

“We are working with individuals to listen to their worries, address their concerns and encourage them to choose to have the vaccine,” he said.