Making the COVID vaccine mandatory for east London healthcare workers could deal a “big hit” to staff numbers, an NHS leader has warned.
Nine out of ten staff are already vaccinated at North East London Foundation NHS Trust (NELFT), which provides community and mental health services across east London.
However, by April next year, nearly all of the trust’s 6,500 staff must be fully vaccinated, following a Government decision earlier this month.
This requirement could cause cause a significant drop in staff numbers, NELFT’s medical director Dr Caroline Allum told a board meeting yesterday.
She said: “We sat down and did a big survey about the impact vaccinations would have, we went back to [NHS England] to say we could see there being a big hit back on the staffing side.”
Union representative Ubaidal Hoque asked members whether they were voicing their concerns enough.
He warned: “I think we will have an acute shortage of staffing if we don’t have some push back on the ground level.”
A report prepared for the board identifies staffing levels as the highest risk faced by the trust, adding that the “talent pipeline” is not producing enough health care professionals.
Opening the meeting, NELFT’s chief executive said 88% of staff are vaccinated and the trust is “working through guidance” on which staff might be exempt.
He added: “Our performance report shows demand has gone up, acuity has gone up, all that is in the context of a pressured workforce, it’s difficult out there and a lot of our colleagues are tired.
“There remains a real pressure on our services, it’s really important that we maintain our well being and support for colleagues across the organisation.”