Protest at Stevenage's Lister Hospital over COVID-19 jabs

Sign for Lister Hospital in Stevenage

A protest will be held outside Lister Hospital in Stevenage tomorrow if mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for NHS workers in England aren't scrapped today - Credit: Archant

A protest against mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for NHS staff in England is set to go ahead outside Stevenage's Lister Hospital tomorrow, if the government doesn't scrap the mandate today.

The government is insisting frontline NHS workers in England must be fully vaccinated by April 1, or they will be redeployed or dismissed.

However, faced with the prospect of crippling staff shortages as a result of this mandate, with a reported 77,000 NHS workers having not had a COVID-19 jab at all, ministers are meeting today to decide whether to make a U-turn on its directive.

If the mandate is not scrapped, a protest will be held outside Lister tomorrow, organised by NHS worker Naomi, who is unvaccinated and, as such, currently stands to lose her job.

She said: "The stance I have taken isn't from an anti-vax point of view, it's from a pro-choice point of view.

"As a NHS healthcare worker, I believe in the principles of informed consent - that's one of the first things we are taught.

"The idea of a vaccine mandate goes against these principles and could lead us down a slippery slope, if we are not careful. If these measures are introduced, what could be next?

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"I feel very strongly about this. I feel we are being bulldozed into it, and the fact 10 per cent of NHS workers are saying they are willing to put their jobs on the line speaks volumes."

Naomi, who is expecting up to 50 people to join her at tomorrow's protest, says she will be handing out leaflets "to educate the public".

She said: "I do fear for the NHS, if [the mandate] does go ahead. It will affect every single person in the country, [due to the resulting staff shortages]."

It is thought up to 300 staff at Lister could be lost.

Of the possibility the mandate could be revoked, Naomi said: "It is of course welcome news, but it doesn't negate the untold stress and anxiety caused over the past couple of months. Lots of people have already left the NHS because of it."