A trust has warned that many of its unvaccinated staff remain unpersuaded despite the prospect of dismissal, and there are ‘very limited’ opportunities for redeployment.
Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust’s board heard this week that leaders “remain worried” informal conversations with workers who have not received a first dose “haven’t made an impact yet”.
Tom Nettel, HUHFT’s director of people, told the meeting that a webinar held with staff last week explained “the vast majority, if not everyone” fell within the scope of needing to be vaccinated.
Patient-facing healthcare workers will need to have had a first jab by 3 February, with two doses by 1 April, as a condition of employment. The trust is encouraging its staff to get the first by 20 January, which is two weeks ahead of the government’s deadline.
As of 30 November, 87.8 per cent had received one dose, and 83.5 per cent had received two doses.
Mr Nettel added: “Unfortunately, if we are not able to vaccinate them, and they do not feel comfortable to do so, we may be faced with an outcome of dismissal.
“Particularly because the alternatives to dismissal are redeployment and those opportunities will be, sadly, very limited within our organisation, if at all, and across north east London.”
NHS England guidance published this month urged organisations to identify options for potential redeployment to non-frontline roles.
Mr Nettel also told the board the trust aimed to have two informal conversations with each person who is unvaccinated, alongside their line manager, before 20 January. The trust’s position will be reviewed after that date, he said.
He added: “This is an area where people feel really, really strongly on both sides. It’s important that we recognise that the majority of people who haven’t had their vaccine will have thought about this and have been contacted, if I can be frank, many times already by our vaccination team and their line managers.
“Therefore, their views will be relatively set.
“We are unlikely to convince them by telling them they are wrong and we need to understand the health and wellbeing impact of people being put in this position…
“We ask everyone to look to be as compassionate as possible in terms of the personal decision that each and every person who is currently unvaccinated will have to make, and of course the stress and anxiety that may bring to them, their family or to colleagues who work alongside them.”
HSJ has approached HUHFT for further comment.