NHS trust chief defends unvaccinated staff

An East London hospital boss has defended his staff for not getting vaccinated despite its low vaccination rate among employees.

Matthew Trainer, chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University NHS Trust (BHRUT), said that the concerns of healthcare staff who did not want to be vaccinated should not be “dismissed”.

The trust runs the King George Hospital in Goodmayes and Queen’s Hospital in Romford.

The government announced earlier this month that all frontline NHS staff will have to get both doses of the coronavirus vaccine by April or face losing their job.

On November 11 vaccines became compulsory for care home workers, with those not double-jabbed sacked.

Thousands of care home workers are estimated to have lost their jobs across the country and thousands more unvaccinated NHS staff could be sacked if they do not receive both doses by the spring.

This includes 1,419 BHRUT staff who have not received two COVID-19 vaccines.

While the vast majority of BHRUT staff have had both jabs, the trust has one of the highest proportions of unvaccinated staff in the country – 83.4 per cent have been double-vaccinated.

This is significantly lower than the UK average of NHS staff at 92 per cent.

However, the average rate of London NHS staff with both jabs is 86 per cent.

Health secretary Sajid Javid expressed concern that unvaccinated NHS staff could contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals when he announced mandatory vaccines earlier this month.

However, BHRUT boss Matthew Trainer argued that concerns of staff who did not want to be vaccinated should be addressed.

He said: “For the ones that haven’t, I think it’s important we realise there’s a couple of different reasons why people might not have it.

“Some people have got a medical exemption and staff with a medical exemption will not need to have it. Some people have got rational concerns about it.

“I have spoken to women who are interested in the impact it might have on their fertility and the other thing we’ve got to realise is some people are genuinely a bit frightened about what it might do to them and what it might feel like.

“I don’t think we should dismiss that and I think we should recognise there is a range of reasonable situations in which people haven’t yet had the jab.”

When asked for further comment, BHRUT simply asked that Mr Trainer’s remarks be used in full.

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Alastair Lockhart

Local Democracy Reporter