Health secretary Sajid Javid has announced a review will be launched over plans to make COVID vaccinations mandatory for NHS staff.
Health workers in England are meant to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by April, but Mr Javid has been under growing pressure to get rid of the rule.
The health secretary told MPs it is no longer proportionate to require NHS staff and health care workers to be vaccinated as a condition of deployment through statute.
He defended the policy of initially introducing mandatory COVID vaccinations for NHS and social care workers, insisting the Government “makes no apology for it”.
Mr Javid told MPs there was a need to consider the impact on the workforce in NHS and social care settings, “especially at a time where we already have a shortage of workers and near full employment across the economy”.
He added: “In December I argued, and this House overwhelmingly agreed, that the weight of clinical evidence in favor of vaccination as a condition of deployment outweighed the risks to the workforce.
“It was the right policy at the time, supported by the clinical evidence, and the Government makes no apology for it. It has also proven to be the right policy in retrospect, given the severity of Delta.”
Speaking during a visit to the Port of Tilbury, in Essex this morning, Boris Johnson said he believes it is “absolutely clear” that NHS staff should get vaccinated.
The prime minister said: “My view on NHS workers, everybody involved in looking after vulnerable people, all healthcare professionals should get a vaccine. That’s absolutely clear.”
There were concerns that the sector could be left with a massive staffing crisis due to the number of workers choosing not to be vaccinated.
Both the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) had urged for the deadline to be postponed and the British Medical Association called for an “urgent impact assessment” on how the policy would affect staffing numbers.