The government must use the expanding vaccination programme to give full priority to health staff, doctors’ leaders have said.
Vaccination of staff has continued to be “ad hoc and often chaotic,” the British Medical Association said. It said that some practices have vaccinated a “reasonable” number of staff while others have done none at all. This is now leading to significant staff absences, the BMA warned.
It is calling for those at highest risk to be vaccinated within a fortnight whilst all health and care staff should be vaccinated by the end of the month, it says.
BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “Hospitals are becoming like warzones, and healthcare workers are the exhausted foot soldiers on the front line. GPs are similarly pushed to the limit delivering an unprecedented mass vaccination programme in the community seven days a week.
“All of these workers are at constant risk of becoming infected, yet they are, beyond all doubt, the most important cog in the COVID-19 ‘care machine’. If they fall ill with the virus and cannot work, there will be reduced care, fewer vaccinations given, fewer medical procedures and less patients getting better and going home from hospital where they may then need GP care; they are also at huge risk and working often 18 hour days.”
He added: “Vaccinating health and care workers won’t stop them being exhausted and won’t stop them feeling the stress and anxiety of not having enough time, or beds, to give patients the care they need. But it will give them protection from this deadly virus and drive down on rates of sickness absence and necessary isolating, which are leaving services brutally exposed.”