Walsall hospital facing 'crisis' over unjabbed staff

Walsall’s Manor Hospital is facing a staffing “crisis” in the coming weeks because many workers have not had the Covid vaccine.

 Walsall Manor Hospital
Walsall Manor Hospital

Bosses said a “significant” number of employees have not come forward to have their first vaccination and, as a result, could be dismissed because of a new law.

The Government introduced legislation which means frontline hospital workers are required to have two jabs by April 1.

But, at Walsall Council’s social care and health scrutiny meeting on Thursday, Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust interim chief executive David Loughton said they were not on track to meet the deadline.

He said: “We are a long way away. This isn’t an issue for Walsall or Wolverhampton. This is a national issue.

“The legislation went through and I’ve got significant numbers of staff that have not been vaccinated.

“If we got to the point where staff have to be dismissed, we will struggle to deliver a number of services.”

He added: “The legislation went through Parliament. All I can do is encourage people to take up the vaccination and we are doing as much as we can to do that.

“I believe after 21/22 months, there will be a significant number of NHS staff who will refuse to have the vaccination come what may, no matter how much encouragement I give. That’s the situation we are in.”

Coronavirus infection rates in Walsall peaked on January 4 at 2,211.6 cases per 100,000 people and have now dropped to 1,232.6 cases per 100,000 people according to the latest figures.

This is just above the rate across the West Midlands as a whole which is 1,086.

Committee chairman Khizar Hussain said people shouldn’t be forced into vaccination but encouraged and educated to take them.

He said: “I know there are big issues with staff shortages and the take up of vaccines.

“As the deadline is looming with all staff having to be vaccinated, it is not going to improve the situation. It’s going to make it a lot worse.

“I think we are going to have a crisis in a couple of months’ time. It is a national issue but we are where we are.”

Mr Loughton also said staff sickness levels were dropping from a peak of 12 per cent to the current 10.1 per cent. He said roughly half of these were workers who had caught Covid.

But in more positive news, a recruitment drive has seen the hospital take on 260 new nursing staff as the trust looks to move away from its previous heavy reliance on agency workers.

Mr Loughton said: “Walsall is in a much better position now than it was. We have recruited 260 nursing staff and I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t done that.”

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