The Health Secretary said it was the “professional duty” of staff to be vaccinated.
Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for NHS workers is being “kept under review”, the Health Secretary has said.
Speaking to the Health and Social Care select committee, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said that, while he believed it was the “professional duty” of NHS staff to protect themselves and others, the policy was being kept under review.
“I think it is right in light of Omicron that we reflect on all this and keep all Covid policies properly under review because Omicron is different to Delta, equally we don’t know what the next variant is going to be, but we are reflecting on all this,” Mr Javid explained.
Currently NHS staff in England have until February 3 to have their first vaccine or face being redeployed or dismissed from their role.
Since the mandate was announced an additional 100,000 NHS workers have had their vaccine but recent estimates suggest around 77,000 remain unvaccinated.
The RCN has called upon the Government to delay the new rules and instead focus on educating staff who are reluctant to be vaccinated.
Pat Cullen, General Secretary and Chief Executive of the RCN, 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.
“Encouraging people to get vaccinated is the best way to boost vaccine take-up.
“Nursing staff, who are well-placed to understand people’s concerns and are highly trusted by them, have led the COVID-19 vaccination programme and have a key role to play in addressing any concerns people may have about being vaccinated.”
Any u-turn is also likely to have consequences across social care.