Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers and deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “NHS leaders have always been clear that there are risks as well as benefits to the mandating the COVID-19 vaccination for health and social care staff in England, which were raised during the Government’s consultation.
“Most health leaders support the introduction of a mandate as it reflects the positive impact that vaccination will continue to have against coronavirus, but they would have preferred longer to implement the policy, particularly given the intensity of winter. However, it was for the Government to set a deadline and they settled on 1 April, which means staff need to have their first jab by 3 February.
“Our members understand that the deadline is imminent and are encouraging hesitant staff to come forward for vaccination and figuring out the possible impact on the services they deliver for patients.
“While the majority of health and care workers have been vaccinated, even small reductions in staffing numbers can cause disruption, especially in smaller services such as primary care. No leader wants to see this given the high standards of care they wish to maintain, the significant vacancies that exist across the NHS already, and the care backlogs that have built up during the pandemic.
"Nonetheless, leaders recognise that even with a longer deadline, there will be staff who unfortunately continue to decline to be vaccinated and while efforts will be made to find alternative roles for them, this won’t be possible for everyone.”