The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is asking the Government to re-consider introducing regulations on mandatory vaccination at this time because of the potential impact on the safe delivery of maternity services.
Even before the pandemic, the maternity workforce was already extremely fragile with challenges around safe staffing levels and persistent gaps in all maternity professions, with estimates putting the shortfall at around 500 doctors and 2,000 midwives.
There is a high level of risk associated with understaffed maternity care and we believe the loss of unvaccinated staff across maternity services at this time should be avoided.
On the current timeline, all patient-facing NHS staff must be fully vaccinated by 1 April 2022, unless exempt, or risk losing their jobs. That means that staff who are currently unvaccinated would need to have had their first dose by next Thursday - 3 February to comply.
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“There is undeniable evidence showing that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, and the best way to protect against severe illness from COVID-19 infection.
“The RCOG strongly encourages all our members and anyone working in maternity care and across the NHS to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination is by far the best way to protect themselves and the patients they care for, and to reduce the impact of staff absence and the disruption to services this causes.
“However we are increasingly concerned about the risk to safe staffing of maternity services that the new regulations being introduced on mandatory vaccination will cause, an issue which has been highlighted by our colleagues in the Royal College of Midwives.
“Maternity services require specialist staff whose skill cannot be replicated elsewhere in the NHS. The risk of doctors, midwives or maternity support workers being dismissed from frontline roles in maternity because they are unvaccinated creates a far greater risk to maternity services’ ability to deliver safe, high-quality care for women.
“We ask that the Government re-considers introducing this policy at this time because of the impact on the safe delivery of maternity services. A delay would allow more time to help maternity staff with concerns or hesitancies feel more confident about having the vaccine.”
For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)7740 175342 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
- RCOG submission to the DHSC Consultation on ‘Making vaccination a condition of deployment in the health and wider social care sector’ (22 October 2021)
- RCOG information about COVID-19, pregnancy and vaccination.