The British Dietetic Association (BDA) welcomes the government’s announcement that COVID-19 vaccinations will no longer be mandatory for dietitians and others working in the NHS.
In a statement to the House of Commons yesterday (31 January), Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the government’s intention to revoke the regulations and confirmed that no enforcement action will be taken.
The BDA Trade Union has consistently opposed the ill-considered decision, announced in December last year, that all patient-facing NHS staff in England must be fully vaccinated by 1 April 2022 or risk losing their jobs. The NHS was within weeks of losing over 70,000 members of staff, which on top of record workforce shortages would have put untenable strain on the NHS, with a huge impact on patient care and staff wellbeing.
Whilst we would encourage all NHS staff to get vaccinated to protect themselves and patients, we stand firmly against this being a condition of employment.
BDA Director of Trade Union and Public Affairs, Annette Mansell-Green, says: “This is welcome news for dietitians and other healthcare professionals who were at risk of losing not only their current role, but leaving the profession altogether.
“The NHS is under serious strain as a result of staff shortages and frankly, is an exhausted and demoralised workforce.
“Coming as it does at the eleventh hour, this U-turn once again shows the government’s disregard for healthcare professionals who are giving their all to support patients against the odds.
“This requirement has subjected NHS staff to unnecessary stress and worry about their future at an already difficult time. The government urgently needs to rebuild trust and turn its attention to retaining staff through addressing the existing staffing crisis by guaranteeing a significant and sustainable pay rise for 2022/23.”
The BDA continues to encourage all staff who have not already done so to take up the offer of a vaccination as the best way to protect yourselves, your loved ones and patients; but we do not believe that this should be a condition of employment.
The BDA Trade Union can provide support to dietitians who feel they have been unfairly treated as a result of this policy. Contact your local BDA Trade Union representative or the Trade Union team at the BDA for advice.