The mandatory vaccine law for healthcare workers could result in the loss of 1,000 staff at a leading hospital, its chief has warned.
Dr Clive Kay, the head of King’s College Hospital (KCH), admitted he was “worried” as around 10 per cent of approximately 14,000 workers at the hospital have not yet received a first dose.
Dr Kay said his job was to “encourage staff to get vaccinated”, after Sajid Javid was questioned by a consultant anaesthetist on the ICU ward during a visit to the hospital.
Steve James told the Health Secretary that he disagreed with the Government’s decision to impose a vaccine mandate for NHS hospital workers, saying the science was not strong enough to support the move.
Mr James also told the Health Secretary he refused to be vaccinated because he has immunity from being “antibody” positive after exposure to the virus.
Dr Kay refused to comment on “individual cases” but said it was a “moot point” whether or not the measures were fair, as they were now matters of law.
Senior staff at KCH are now ramping up efforts to encourage hospital workers to get jabbed as the deadline for them to receive a first dose approaches, he said.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, was questioned by consultant Steve James during a visit to the hospital
Credit: Stefan Rousseau
In December, MPs approved mandatory vaccinations for NHS and social care staff by April this year.
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, Dr Kay said: “The law is now such that individuals who are not vaccinated, if they can’t be redeployed, will not be able to work in hospitals if they deal with patients.
“We’re having conversations with staff, their line managers are having conversations, we have a helpline where colleagues seek clarification and help.”
More than 1,000 members of staff could be lost in an “extreme” scenario unless vaccine uptake within the workforce improves, Dr Kay said.
Asked whether he was worried, Dr Kay said: “Yes, of course. I think my job is to worry, my job is to worry about everything in relation to whether or not we have enough staff here to provide care for patients and will continue to do so, and we will provide care for patients but ultimately if individuals choose not to (it’s) their choice,” he said.
Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, also backed the requirement for NHS workers to be vaccinated despite staff shortages and the anaesthetist’s challenge to Mr Javid.
He told the BBC’s Sunday Morning show: “I think when you work with the most vulnerable people – and those going into hospital are very vulnerable, as are those in our care homes – you have a duty of care.”