Covid news – live: Midwives push for delay to mandatory health staff vaccines as deaths hit 11-month high

Boris Johnson got ‘big calls right’ on Covid, says Michael Gove

One of the UK’s most senior midwives has urged the government to “immediately” halt plans for mandatory Covid jabs for frontline health workers in England.

Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said the policy could have a significant impact on maternity services which, she added, are stretched due to staff absences currently being at their highest level since the pandemic began after the fallout of the Omicron variant.

“We do not believe mandatory vaccination is the correct approach,” she said, adding leaders should instead be using “discussion, persuasion and education to increase vaccination among NHS staff, not the hammer blow of mandating it”.

It comes as Covid-related deaths hit an 11-month high in the UK, according to the latest government data, despite daily case figures continuing to drop after the Christmas and new year surge of Omicron infections. Some 398 deaths were recorded on Wednesday – the highest since 24 February last year, when 442 deaths were reported.


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