Crucial work being undertaken to ensure frontline health staff in Suffolk vaccinated ahead of government deadline
Health chiefs in Suffolk say work over the next few weeks is crucial to ensure frontline staff get their Covid-19 jabs in time for the government-mandated deadline, while efforts are also being made to move unvaccinated workers into other roles.
Suffolk's Health and Wellbeing Board on Thursday was told that around one per cent of NHS workers in the county have not been vaccinated yet, while in the county's care sector around 250 workers in residential nursing and care didn't take up the vaccine ahead of the November 11 deadline for that industry last year.
The Government has mandated that all frontline health staff in Care Quality Commission regulated settings must be jabbed by April in order to continue their work.
It means workers must have had a first dose by February 3 in order to receive both doses in time for the April cut-off.
Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive of Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, said: "We are working through the numbers and having conversations with all of the staff that haven't been vaccinated yet.
"We think it is probably about one per cent of the NHS staff, and we are trying to get that number as low as possible so that is an absolutely crucial piece of work we are doing over the next few weeks."
In the care sector meanwhile, the board was told most of the 250 unjabbed care staff in November were relocated to other areas but with the new government mandate may well find themselves in roles requiring jabs again.
Efforts were being made to redeploy those in other areas such as 111 services, according to bosses.
Sue Cook, Suffolk County Council's executive director of people's services, said that all staff had been jabbed in 80 per cent of the county's home care providers, with the authority still needing more information from 25 providers.
"We are looking at other options for relocating across the whole system," she said.
"I am having a discussion with 111 service to see if we can relocate staff into another part of the system which isn't covered by the CQC regulation.
"We are managing the risk at the moment, assessing the business continuity risk and then looking at solutions going forward.
"As we did with residential and nursing through our business continuity process, we will support any provider in the system where there is a risk to business continuity, and that was quite successful in the residential and nursing sector."
The meeting also heard of moral difficulties in making jabs compulsory for frontline workers.
Dr Mark Shenton, Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG chairman said there was a 'responsibility to uphold confidence of the public in all vaccination programmes,' which required a balancing act between the duty of care to patients and the compulsory jab concerns.
He added: "We have been hearing issues around mandation - particularly in some of our minority ethnic groups who have been subjected in places they have previously lived under authoritarian rule that they will not have this vaccination because they are told to have it in a mandated way.
"Where does that place us morally? I think it is a very difficult issue."