England: Mandatory vaccination plans may devastate dental services
17 December 2021
As government pushed mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers through parliament with minimal scrutiny, we have warned of the calamitous impact on already stretched dental services.
Our survey of dentists in England suggests vaccine hesitancy may push thousands out of the workforce:
- 1 in 10 high street respondents say they are not fully vaccinated, with 9% reporting they have not had their first jab
- Less than two thirds of respondents believe all dentists operating in their practices are fully vaccinated
- Less than half say their dental nurses, who are integral to the delivery of care, are fully vaccinated
- Over 30% believe dental nurses at their practices will leave as a result of the mandate, with nearly 15% of dentists saying they will leave themselves. Some who have received the vaccine cite ethical concerns of working to this model.
NHS England has acknowledged it holds no data on vaccine uptake in the contractor workforce. While government produced an impact assessment at the eleventh hour, it merely extrapolated levels of vaccine hesitancy from other parts of the NHS workforce and failed to grasp the scale of recruitment and retention problems in this service.
"Mandatory vaccination risks dropping a bomb on a service already stretched to breaking point" according to BDA Chair Eddie Crouch.
"We now face a grim scenario where thousands of dental team members will walk as result of choices made by government, leaving thousands of vacancies that will never be filled."
The mandate is set to cover all CQC registered health professionals, so will cover dentists and their teams, in both NHS and private settings. We have long supported the vaccine rollout but have stressed the government must think again about compulsion.
Our concerns were shared by members of the House of Lords, who slammed plans for not being thoroughly thought through, leaving them unable to properly scrutinise the proposed legislation.
The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee Chair Baron Hodgson said: "DHSC has provided no single coherent statement to explain and justify its intended policy, and this undermines the ability of the House to undertake effective scrutiny of the proposed legislation."
Advice on mandatory vaccination
See our advice for further information on mandatory vaccination:
Letter templates are also available to Expert members for the following:
A letter template to help you gather evidence of vaccination
Vaccination evidence – letter template to invite employed staff to first meeting
Vaccination evidence – letter template to self-employed for vaccine discussion