Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly backed a move that would force healthcare and care home workers to take coronavirus vaccines, despite concerns over the legality of such a measure.
The UK government is set to announce its intention to rewrite the Health and Social Care Act of 2008 in order to enable the government to make coronavirus jabs compulsory for staff in elderly care homes.
The move comes after a five-week consultation, which will reportedly publish its findings on Thursday, The Times reported.
A separate consultation and legislative action will be required in order to force healthcare workers in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) to take the vaccine.
A ‘government source’ told the newspaper that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has personally expressed his support for the measure, adding: “It’s only right that those who are caring for people who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus should be vaccinated. This will save lives.”
At present, some 89 per cent of NHS staff throughout the country have had at least one dose of the vaccine. However, in areas such as London, the number drops to around 80 per cent.
The same regional disparity exists in care home facilities, with 83 per cent of staff having received at least one dose in the country at large compared to around 66 per cent in London boroughs such as Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, and Barnsley.
The UK government has been concerned by the apparent aversion to vaccines among so-called BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) groups, with studies consistently finding that white British people are more likely to take the jab than ethnic minorities.
A study from the BMJ medical journal in February, for example, found that at the University Hospitals of the Leicester NHS trust, some 71 per cent of white staff had taken the vaccine, compared to 59 per cent for South Asians, and just 37 per cent for black staff.
UK Govt Planning to Force Healthcare Workers to Take Vaccine: Report https://t.co/fL95BBotia
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 4, 2021
The Labour Party has expressed opposition to the move, claiming that it could be seen as “threatening” to people and could further exacerbate the staffing issues faced by the country’s socialised healthcare system.
Unions have also come out against the scheme, with Christina McAnea, the general secretary of the NHS union Unison, saying in March: “Forced vaccinations are the wrong way to go, and send out a sinister and worrying message.”
“Encouragement and persuasion rather than threats and bullying are key to a successful programme, as ministers themselves have repeatedly indicated. Mandatory jabs are counterproductive and likely to make those who are hesitant even more so. This will do nothing to help health and care sectors that are already chronically understaffed.”
The move would also likely trigger legal challenges under the Equalities Act, as mandating the vaccine for employment could be argued as discriminatory.
Pat Cullen, acting general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The RCN believes that making the vaccine easily available is the best way to increase uptake . . . health and care staff must be supported to make an informed choice about taking the vaccine.
“It is inherent, however, within the Nursing and Midwifery Council code that nursing staff take measures to protect their patients and the public against serious illness as a professional responsibility.”
Quarter of London NHS Staff Have Refused to Take Coronavirus Vaccines https://t.co/x6wn48zJ7J
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 2, 2021
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