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Bishop of London calls on government to delay mandatory vaccination for health workers

by Donna Birrell

The Bishop of London has called on the Government to delay the requirement for all health workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Speaking in the House of Lords, the Right Reverend Sarah Mullally said the requirement for mandatory vaccination was causing anxiety amongst health care workers and could potentially risk the NHS and its patients.

Bishop Sarah who chairs the Church of England's Covid Recovery Group, said while she encourages people to get the vaccine, London could lose 12 percent of its midwives if it's made mandatory. 

Two jabs will become compulsory for frontline NHS staff from 1 April after MPs voted on the legislation last month.

The former Chief Nursing Officer for the United Kingdom joins groups including the Royal College of Nursing in urging the Government to delay the implementation.

Bishop Sarah said :

"I would strongly encourage everyone, including NHS staff and health care workers, to get fully vaccinated.

"However, having heard from midwives myself this week, I can see the anxiety that the requirement for mandatory vaccination is causing, as well as the potential risks to the heath service and its patients.

"It is estimated that London could lose 12.5% of its midwives, putting at risk the lives of pregnant women and their babies. Such loss of staff might be thought justified, were it not the case that two doses of the vaccine are not understood to be protective against the omicron variant of COVID-19.

 So we shall lose precious midwives in order to implement a policy that has been superseded by the evolution of the virus."

It’s believed more than 70,000 NHS staff (4.9%) could remain unvaccinated by 1 April. Anyone who hasn't had a first jab by 3 February will be sent a dismissal letter as that is the latest date to ensure a second dose can be administered before 1 April. (There has to be an 8 week interval between first and second doses.)

Responding to the Bishop of London's comments in the House of Lords, Baroness Evans of Bowes Park said :

"I'm sure {the Bishop} would accept that unvaccinated healthcare workers do increase the risk to themselves, their colleagues and the very vulnerable people in their care. So it is our responsibility to give everyone the best possible protection."

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