A tried and trusted voice

By Lesley Wood, Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing on 12 January 2022 Midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers NHS Staff Politics Government Covid-19

As we settle into another year, we carry with us the weight of the ongoing pandemic with added concerns and anxieties regarding the Government’s decision to introduce mandatory vaccines in England for frontline staff. This is something the RCM opposes and has argued against especially in our response to the consultation in October 2021.

While we know that the majority of RCM members have taken up the offer of the vaccine and booster, there are some who have declined it. We are here to reiterate the RCM’s position on mandatory vaccination and what we are doing to support you.

Today we have called on the Government to delay mandatory vaccine plans in England, with immediate effect and added our voice to the TUC’s call. Maternity services are facing immense pressures due to understaffing, made worse by the impact of the pandemic. We simply cannot afford to lose midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) who have chosen to decline vaccination. Instead, we are asking for a much more pragmatic approach – encouraging voluntary staff take-up of the vaccine alongside a strong testing regime.

However the evidence and research is clear vaccination and booster offers the best protection from COVID for midwives, for MSWs, for their families and for the wider public which registrants will be aware is enshrined within their NMC Code.

This is why we have been relentless in accumulating the most trusted guidance for you, RCM members, to help keep you safe during this unprecedented time. We will continue to promote our message and encourage voluntary uptake for eligible members, to get the jab. Get boosted. Get protected. See our videos and resources that share the evidence and support the message.

RCM members who choose to decline vaccination, for whatever reason, will find themselves to be non-compliant with regulations and the law. The RCM will provide support and representation through local and formal processes, ensuring they are applied fairly and proportionately. We will also ensure our workplace representatives have access to any support and training they might need to carry out their role.

When the Government launched its consultation, we warned them of the unforeseen consequences of mandatory vaccination. We made it clear that we do not support mandatory vaccination, as did many other health organisations. For whatever reason, the Government chose not to listen. We hope that they will listen to our calls for delay now – but if they do not, we will continue to support our members.

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