Great Britain

NHS trusts urged to hold one to one talks with vaccine hesitant staff amid low uptake

NHS England has urged its managers to speak directly to staff who have refused a Covid-19 vaccine as uptake dwindles among health service employees.

An email cited by trade publication the Health Service Journal called on trusts to “redouble our efforts in keeping each and every one of our staff safe”.

It comes as gaps emerge in the rollout of vaccines across the health and social care sector despite workers being given early access to the immunisation.

Uptake has been particularly low among ethnic minority workers, with a mid-February survey of 19,000 healthcare workers at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust finding uptake among white staff stood at 71 per cent, compared to 59 per cent of South Asian staff and 37 per cent of Black staff.

In social care, vaccinated employees make up 59.2 per cent of the workforce in accredited Care Quality Commission homes, while the number to have received an initial jab in other care settings stands at 57.5 per cent.

The email, from NHS England’s chief people officer Prerana Issar, said: “As a result of your continued hard work we have seen an uptick in staff vaccination numbers, with nine out of (10) eligible staff now vaccinated.

“The feedback we’ve received is that your work with black, Asian and minority ethnic networks, chaplains and clinical leaders has had results. There are, however, a number of staff who have declined the first dose of the vaccine.

“As the evidence grows around the effectiveness of the vaccine and its ability to reduce transmission, we must now redouble our efforts in keeping each and every one of our staff safe…

“So we are asking that every staff member who declined the vaccine should now have a one-to-one conversation with their line manager to explain the powerful protective effects of the vaccine.

“It is the perfect opportunity to address concerns and better understand hesitancy. Local occupational health teams should support these conversations.”

Ms Issar said the conversations needed to happen “at pace” and by 12 March, adding: “We continue to support shared decision-making but there is clear evidence that the vaccine is the best way to quickly protect colleagues and the patients in our care.”

A spokeswoman for NHS England, said: “More than nine in 10 frontline NHS staff have now had the first Covid vaccine, which is an amazing and still growing uptake.

“A vast amount of work is happening with Bame networks, chaplains, faith and community leaders to encourage as many people as possible take up the offer of a vaccine.”

Additional reporting by PA

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