Covid: Will NHS staff have to get compulsory vaccines in Scotland?

Former UK health secretary Matt Hancock has called for all NHS staff in England to be legally required to get vaccinated against Covid-19 before winter.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 4:55 am

It comes after reports the UK Government plans to introduce mandatory vaccination for the 1.45 million staff in NHS England from April 2022.

An announcement is expected imminently from current health secretary Sajid Javid.

The decision is set to be controversial, with pressure on both sides.

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Nurse Sarah MacLeod prepares a vaccine at the mass vaccine centre at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on February 1, 2021. Photo by Jane Barlow/Getty Images

Mr Hancock warned ahead of a brutal winter, all available tools must be used to protect the NHS. Currently around 90 per cent of healthcare staff in England have been vaccinated.

But others have said the measure may risk an exodus of staff from a service already struggling to fill vacancies.

So will mandatory vaccination apply in Scotland?

The current position north of the border is that it will not.

The issue has been hotly debated in England for some months and the Scottish Government response has continued to be that it does not see compulsory vaccination as a way forward.

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There is no data available for how many NHS staff have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in Scotland, but the closest estimate is 94 per cent.

This figure does not include all frontline health workers, but does take in those with job titles in nursing, midwifery, medical and dental, ambulance services, Allied Health Professionals and registered GPs.

It is higher than the coverage across the general population, which for two vaccine doses is 88 per cent.

However, take-up in social care roles is estimated to be lower, at just over 87 per cent.

This is an estimate based on registered Scottish Social Services Council staff.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously said she would not be in favour of making the vaccine programme compulsory, citing ethical considerations.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said there were currently “no plans” for compulsory vaccination.

They said: “There are no plans to introduce mandatory vaccinations for NHS and social care staff in Scotland. Uptake rates are incredibly high amongst NHS and social care staff in Scotland and we are grateful for their efforts during the pandemic.”

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