- Published: Tuesday, 09 November 2021 07:38
- Written by Chris Tapper
- Hits: 1956
It looks like frontline NHS England staff WILL have to be fully vaccinated against COVID, after Whitehall sources told the BBC that the Government is expected to announce a deadline will be set for next spring to give unvaccinated staff time to get both doses.
With no clear current guidance, dental practice owners are experiencing confusion on how to tackle vaccine-resistance among practice staff.
When Health Secretary Sajid Javid does make the decision to bring NHS staff in line with care home workers, there’s still no clarity on the position private dental practitioners and staff would be in when such a ruling is made on NHS practitioners.
GDPUK is aware that practice owners have facing real dilemmas over the vaccination issue, especially since a significant number are experiencing recruitment difficulties, particularly with regard to filling vacancies for dental nurses.
GDPUK knows of one private practice owner who wasn’t clear on whether he could recruit a new member of staff who wasn’t vaccinated.
Even the position of dental nurses working in NHS practices appears to be confused and a ‘grey area.’
As one GDP pointed out on social media, dental nurses even if working in the health service, are not directly employed by the NHS, but by the practice owner who is a contractor for the health service.
There appears to be a consensus among dentists that the wording of any COVID vaccine mandate will have to be very carefully worded to ensure dental professionals are complying with the rules without compromising their registration or contravening the law.
Mr Javid told Sky News a few days ago that there are still an estimated 100,000 NHS workers that are not vaccinated.
The Health Secretary said “What we saw with the care sector is that when we announced the policy … then we saw many more people come forward and do the right thing and get vaccinated, that’s what I hope, if we can do the same thing with the NHS, we will see,” the Guardian reported.
A few days ago the Guardian reported Mr Javid emphasising “If they haven’t got vaccinated by now then there is an issue about patient safety and that’s something the government will take very seriously.”
Dr Layla McCay, the director of policy at the NHS Confederation said in an interview with Times Radio “We’ve spoken to our members about this, and it’s a bit of a mixed picture because most of them agree that in some ways, mandating the vaccine could be quite helpful to make sure that more people get the vaccine.”
“But on the other hand, if some people decide they don’t want the vaccine that could lead to staff recruitment and retention problems and we’re going into this incredibly challenging winter.”
“If we start to lose staff during this time that could be incredibly challenging, so it’s a real balance.”
The Guardian said Jeremy Brown, a professor of respiratory medicine at University College London hospitals told Sky News “If you’re frontline NHS staff dealing with patients and meeting the general public you should be vaccinated – it’s a professional thing, it’s a safety thing.”
The tricky subject of vaccination status in dentistry was brought to a head in New Zealand in the past few days when it was reported that a dentist in the North Island had been bombarded with threats “After advising it wants all patients to be vaccinated, and will charge those that aren’t, a fee for use of PPE.”
The NZ Herald said that the dentist, who practises in Palmerston North, even had threats that his practice would be burned down.
The practice put a notice up last week, announcing its policy following an outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
“The notice says the business will require all adult patients to provide proof of vaccination from December 1 and that "unvaccinated patients may be seen at the last appointment of the day with full PPE gear, only for emergencies and will be charged accordingly an extra fee,” the NZ Herald reported.
“It also notes that there may be some who would disagree with the new policy, ‘however, we know this is the right thing to do to protect our patients, staff and the wider New Zealand community,’”
A spokesperson for the practice told the newspaper about the private practice owner’s decision. "What he’s saying is that he wants a safe environment for his patients. We treat a relatively older patient group and he is prepared to see everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, but the unvaccinated people will be given a designated time in the afternoon and we will have to wear full PPE gear.”
Just yesterday, GDPUK was told of a patient demanding an emergency appointment with a UK GDP, despite the patient being potentially infectious, potentially putting any unvaccinated staff member at risk.
On its website, the General Dental Council states “There is not an absolute requirement on dental professionals to be vaccinated because there are legitimate reasons for some people not to be vaccinated.”
“However, Standards for the Dental Team require you to provide a safe environment for patients and to manage the risks of your own health.”
“This normally means you should be vaccinated.”
“If you cannot be vaccinated then you need to follow clinical guidance to protect yourself, colleagues and patients.”
With regard to the responsibilities of dental practice owners, the GDC says “We do not regulate employers or requirements for employment. However, we understand that employers are balancing competing priorities between the rights of employees and restoring safe dental services back to pre-pandemic levels of capacity.”
“We encourage employers to take a supportive approach to anyone who is unable or hesitant to receive vaccinations, because we believe this is a more effective means to protect individuals, patients and colleagues, including staff who are not vaccinated.”
Late last night in an adjournment debate called in the Commons by dentist and MP for Mole Valley Sir Paul Beresford, Health and Social Care Minister Maggie Throup told the House of the Government’s actions to encourage uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines.
The Minister said “Vaccines remain our biggest line of defence as we head into the challenge of the winter period. Vaccinated people are less likely to get seriously ill with COVID-19 to be admitted to hospital or to die from it. There’s also evidence that they are less likely to pass the virus on to others.”
“We are working with the NHS to provide advice and information at every opportunity and how to get the vaccine is benefits as well as combating any misinformation.”
“The NHS is engaging every single day with local authorities, faith leaders and organisations representing ethnic minority communities provide advice and information about vaccines and how they will be made available.”
Ms Throup said “Our communications include information advice via TV, radio and social media, and it has been translated into over 13 different languages. print and online material, including interviews and practical advice has appeared in 600. national, regional, local, especially cycles.”
“We have worked with clinicians and medical influencers to clearly communicate the benefits of the vaccine and deliver content via the media social media platforms. This is just some of the huge amounts of activity that has taken place and continues to take place to show as many people as possible can benefit from the vaccine.”
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