There is ‘no evidence’ that NHS staff are applying for jobs in Scotland to avoid mandatory Covid vaccination in England, health leaders have said.
Vaccine-hesitant staff are said to have been discussing on social media the prospect of moving north of the border or to Wales according to a report in The Times.
NHS employers in England have been told to prepare to begin dismissal proceedings for for unvaccinated staff from February 4, the day after workers would need to have a first jag to meet the deadline.
From April, all health and social care workers, in England who have “direct contact with patients” are required to have a minimum of two doses, unless exempted.
Reports indicate that as many as 73,000 NHS staff in England could lose their jobs.
Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister said during an interview with Radio 4 that he would not “rule out” recruiting vaccine refusers.
Asked if the Scottish Government would follow suit a spokesman said health boards were responsible for the recruitment of staff and were required to follow “open and fair” processes.
A spokesman added: “Whilst we strongly encourage those eligible to receive coronavirus vaccination to do so, the decision is one of personal choice and the Scottish Government has no current plans to introduce mandatory vaccination or to impose any penalties relating to this.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it actively recruited its workforce from across the UK and internationally but added: “Whilst our posts are attractive to NHS staff from all over the UK, we have not seen an increase in interest from NHS England candidates.”
The British Medical Association said it supported the Scottish Government’s approach of “persuasion and encouragement”.
A spokeswoman added: “Of course it is true we are in the middle of a medical recruitment crisis – however, anyone wanting to work in Scotland must go through the usual appointment processes with decisions on employment rightly left to individual employers taking all individual circumstances into account.”
Janis Butler, Director of HR for NHS Lothian, said the board “strongly encouraged”staff to be fully vaccinated, especially those caring for patients.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that dismissing staff when the health service faces such chronic staffing shortages is an act of “self-sabotage”.
An NHS doctor challenged Sajid Javid over compulsory vaccines for healthcare workers, telling the health secretary: “I’ve not had a vaccination; I don’t want to have a vaccination.”
The scene, which was caught by Sky News cameras, was broadcast after Javid visited King’s College hospital in south London. It has been shared extensively on social media by both critics and supporters of vaccine mandates.
Steve James, a consultant anaesthetist, said: ““The vaccine is reducing transmission only for about eight weeks with Delta.
“With Omicron it’s probably less. And for that I would be dismissed if I don’t have a vaccine? The science isn’t strong enough.”
The health secretary responded saying: “I respect that but there are also many different views.”