Exclusive GPs have a professional duty to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and individual refusals could be investigated by the GMC, the regulator has told Pulse.
It comes as a bulletin from NHS England, sent on Tuesday, said NHS staff ‘have a professional responsibility to get vaccinated’.
The GMC told Pulse said their guidance is clear that ‘that doctors should be immunised against common serious communicable diseases unless medically contraindicated’.
The GMC told Pulse it would look at any concerns reported to them on a case-by case basis, with a spokesperson adding: ‘If there are good reasons why vaccination is not appropriate in individual cases, we’d expect strong measures in place to minimise risk and protect vulnerable patients.’
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges also issued a statement reminding doctors of their duty as set out in the GMC Good Medical Practice guidelines.
‘The evidence for both the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines is strong and clear cut,’ the statement from member colleges which includes the RCGP said.
‘We believe it is particularly important for health and care staff to be vaccinated if at all possible because of the responsibility we all have in our various interactions with patients.’
In its primary care bulletin, NHS England said: ‘We strongly encourage all health and care staff to get vaccinated. Our clinical leaders agree with the Chief Medical Officer that NHS staff have a professional responsibility to get vaccinated and we hope as many as possible are able take up the offer.’
It urged anyone with concerns about the vaccine to speak to their employer and asked that the AoMRC statement be shared to ‘reinforce take up amongst health and care professionals’.
The Nursing and Midwifery council has said that they recognise that those on their register have their own personal beliefs, including around any potential Covid-19 vaccine but as their code sets out they have ‘a duty to act in a way that puts the interests of those using heath and care services first and prioritises their care and safety’.
Responding to questions about vaccine hesitancy among NHS staff in a parliamentary hearing, Nadhim Zahawi, minister for vaccine deployment said he would reiterate what Chris Whitty had said.
‘If you’re looking after a vulnerable person to Covid, then it is your professional duty if offered the jab to take the jab.’
During the session on take up of Covid-19 vaccines in minority ethnic groups and women he added that figures showed uptake of more than 90% among NHS front line health care workers.
The minister also pointed to ONS surveillance which has indicated that 94% of all UK adults are on course to accept a Covid vaccination.