It has been a long time coming, as we enter the final stages of the rollout of the NHS (Self-Destruction) Regulations 2022. After a two year period unlike anything ever seen before in the NHS, with a seriously demoralised and depleted workforce, NHS managers are gearing up to fire many tens of thousands of NHS frontline staff. The managers and their staff are, of course, just following orders, following in the footsteps of others who, at times of moral darkness, just followed orders, and removed innocent undesirables from their midst. What makes the NHS managers so remarkable in their behaviour is that the undesirables aren’t innocent aliens, they are instead a significant part of the NHS frontline workforce. The generals, in effect, are gearing up to shoot their own troops, at a time when they need them the most.
The numbers involved are anything but trivial. Though not a true decimation (one in every ten of the workforce), in the NHS in England, the government estimates around 73,000 will remain unvaccinated (or of undeclared vaccination status) on V-Day, the 31st March 2022, from a total ‘in-scope’ workforce of 1,486,000, meaning one in twenty (5%) will get fired between now and then. To put that in another perspective, and avoid the irrelevant distraction that a handful of these staff may be redeployed in non-frontline roles, the NHS currently has getting on for 100,000 vacancies; over the next few weeks the government plans to add another 73,000 vacancies, thereby not far short of doubling the number of vacancies, at a time of unprecedented recruitment and retention challenges.
What is the rationale for this wanton act of self-destruction? It must surely be so compelling, so utterly overwhelming, that it brooks no argument. Yet it is not. The whole exercise is based on a fallacy: two vaccinations good, no vaccinations bad. According to the fallacy, the vaccinated, the virtuous, the clean, can move freely among patients because they are never infected or infectious, and so pose no threat to patients, while the unvaccinated, the un-virtuous, the unclean, are festering bio-hazards, filthy fifth columnists spreading disease wherever they go. Were this true, of course it would make sense to prevent patient exposure to the unvaccinated, but the facts are all at odds with this complacent fallacious nonsense. Week in, week out, the governments own data shows the vaccinated have higher rates of infection than the unvaccinated, by a factor of about two in the latest report. True, these are unadjusted rates per 100,000, but it will need an adjustment beyond the realms of even the most creative SAGE numerologist to wipe out the apparent fact that is it is not the unvaccinated, but the vaccinated, that teem the most with covid.
Nor is there any substantial evidence that the vaccinated are any less infectious than there unvaccinated counterparts. Unlike routine surveillance, the studies needed to answer this question are complex to do, and, inevitably, they are in short supply. Nonetheless, those that have been done fail to demonstrate that vaccination reduces transmissibility. Of the two leading studies, one concluded ‘Close-contacts of vaccinated Delta-infected indexes did not have statistically significant reduced risk of acquisition compared with unvaccinated Delta-infected indexes,’ while the other concluded ‘that breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people can efficiently transmit infection in the household setting’. The studies were not perfect, and covered largely delta dominated household spread, but they are currently the best evidence we have on the in-effectiveness of vaccination against onward transmission.
This lack of evidence for vaccine effectiveness against either infection or transmission makes a mockery of any work place exclusion policy based on vaccination status. On the available evidence, there is no evidence that the policy makes one jot of medical sense. Add in the fact the some, perhaps most, of the unvaccinated will have natural immunity from past infection, and that, even by the lights of Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, ‘we know that the two doses [which are all that are required by the NHS (Self-Destruction) Regulations 2022] of the vaccine offer very limited protection, if any [against omicron],’ and we can see that the policy isn’t just evidence-lite, it is evidence-absent.
And yet, NHS managers are going to keep the trains, or at least the firings, running on time. Strict protocols and stricter timetables are in place, and have been broadcast to all trusts and other affected bodies. The message is stark, get vaccinated, or get terminated; the language is chilling. There is no place for cosy redundancy arrangements, no formal help finding alternative employment, no entitlements or payments:
“It is important to note this is not a redundancy exercise. In the context of the regulations, there is no diminishment or cessation of work of a particular kind. Employers will not be concerned with finding ‘suitable alternative employment’ and there will be no redundancy entitlements, including payments, whether statutory or contractual, triggered by this process. The redeployment or dismissal of workers is determined by the introduction of the regulations and an individual’s decision to remain unvaccinated.
“Whilst organisations are encouraged to explore redeployment, the general principles which apply in a redundancy exercise are not applicable here, and it is important that managers are aware of this.”
In other words, do as required, or get fired. Some may consider the image at the top of this post overstates the case. But consider this: you are a frontline NHS worker, with years if not decades of service behind you. You understand the facts well enough to know that there is no credible evidence base behind the mandatory covid vaccination policy, and at the same time, for whatever reason, have decided covid vaccination is not for you. You are even be willing to undergo regular antibody testing, and face the music based on the results. But none of this counts: ‘The…dismissal of workers is determined by the introduction of the regulations and an individual’s decision to remain unvaccinated’. Your career and livelihood is over, ended not by the logic of medical science, but by cheap political posturing. You may get fired by letter or text, but the letter or text will cut through you as harshly as if it had been a bullet fired from a gun.
Outside, in the distance, where the wildcats growl,