As it stands, in two weeks NHS workers will be expected to prove their vaccination status, with February 3 the last day they can book their jab
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Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab played down reports that mandatory jabs for NHS workers could be delayed by six months amid growing anger over the move.
According to the Telegraph, Boris Johnson is preparing to put back the April 1 deadline.
As it stands, in two weeks NHS workers will be expected to prove their vaccination status, with February 3 the last day they can book their jab.
On February 4, those without jabs will face dismissal warnings.
They will then be asked to work their notice periods until March 31. More than 80,000 NHS staff are thought to not be jabbed, but many angry about threats to their jobs joined anti-vaxx protests over the weekend.
Speaking on the BBC ’s Sunday Morning programme, Mr Raab said: “Nine out of 10 NHS staff have now come forward and had their vaccine. That is critically important.
“I do think that we continue to call for those (who are unvaccinated) to come forward to be boosted or vaccinated before the deadline but I think ultimately we have to make sure that we don’t have people putting patients at risk if they are not vaccinated.
“The deadline is there to protect the most vulnerable in our hospitals but we have got the resilience because we have got nearly 5,000 more doctors, nearly 11,000 more nurses than we did in 2020.”
Pat Cullen, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said the deadline for mandatory jabs should be delayed or the policy will “backfire”.
She said: “Nothing matters more to a nurse than caring for their patients safely.
“Right now, our members are telling me they can’t always do that.
“We are calling on the Government to recognise this risk and delay a move which by its own calculations looks to backfire.
“To dismiss valued nursing staff during this crisis would be an act of self-sabotage.”
Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations within the health service, said: “When we consulted our members, they told us that they would have preferred longer to implement the policy.
“However they are working hard to prepare for the deadline and are continuing to focus on encouraging and persuading hesitant staff to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
“We do have to acknowledge that as the deadline approaches some frontline staff will have to leave their present roles if they continue to decline to be vaccinated.”
Shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said that a delay should be considered.
Speaking on Sky News’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday, she said: “There is discussion about putting off the deadline, and if we are going to put off the deadline, then we need to work with the hospitals and with the trade union movement about how it is that we can convince as many people as possible who work within the health service to get themselves vaccinated.
“Nobody who works in the National Health Service comes into the service for the money but in order to make sure they help others.
“Arguments need to be put before them to say you are not helping others by not being vaccinated.”