The mandatory vaccine decision made at the start of November will mean that all eligible NHS workers must have the Covid-19 vaccine by April 2022.
An impact assessment carried out by the Department of Health and Social Care found that over 126,000 unvaccinated staff could lose their job if they are not vaccinated by the deadline.
More than 55,000 NHS workers have had their first dose since the government announced the mandate but there are still 94,000 still yet to have the vaccine at all.
In an interview with the Guardian, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson has said that in one hospital trust 40 midwives are refusing to get vaccinated meaning that maternity unit may have to close.
He added that, “trust leaders are acutely aware that, from April onwards, when Covid vaccinations will become mandatory, decisions by staff to remain unvaccinated could – in extreme circumstances – lead to patient services being put at risk.
“If sufficient numbers of unvaccinated staff in a particular service in a particular location choose not to get vaccinated, the viability and/or safety of that service could be at risk.”
The RCM said: “We don’t yet have a number for midwives who have yet to be vaccinated. However, to meet the statutory requirement they will need to have their first vaccination by 3 February. The RCM will represent members. But there are very limited options.
“We are concerned that this will inevitably deepen maternity staff shortages and severely impact those midwives and maternity support workers left behind in services already struggling with acute staffing shortages.”
Maternity staff have resigned since the mandate was announced causing immense strain on the service due to already existing staff shortages. NHS England estimate that maternity services need 2,000 more whole-time equivalent midwives are needed but the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) say its closer to 2,500.