Updated: Feb 17
Patient-facing Black and ethnic minority workers who have not had the COVID-19 vaccine risk losing their jobs. Overwhelming data in clinical and non-clinical roles reveal that there is a higher percentage of us in Bands 2-6 in health and social care. When you observe the trend in Band 7 and above it drops dramatically. The uptake in vaccine will no doubt be looked upon within these groups of workers.
Many of us are afraid to speak up about how this goes against the very foundations of bodily autonomy. A disproportionate amount of us have been referred to our regulator, Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). And many of these referrals are of a vexatious nature. As a result, so many of us have lost our jobs over this. Some have died as a result of suicide because of structural racism. The NMC is aware of this as, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, they published data looking into this. And we are yet to see effective actions in tackling structural racism within our profession.
We are working in an ongoing depleted work force, the staffing problems have long existed over the decade due to cuts made by those in power of decision making. If the vaccine mandate goes ahead, we will lose a further estimated 85,000 staff. After two years of clapping, calling us “heroes”, banging pots together and offering an insufficient pay rise, staff will lose their jobs. These very same staff had to use expired face masks and dress in a flimsy apron cut out of bin bags knowing COVID-19 is airborne. We were left hung out to dry. Many of us died as a result of insufficient actions in tackling this pandemic. Facing structural racism became even worse. Referrals to NMC showed no sign of slowing down.
We represent a marginalised community of people that face worse outcomes in healthcare. We all know that Black women dealing with maternal healthcare are at higher risk of dying than any other group of women. Evidence consistently reveals that those in power continue to make wrong decisions and further break any effort in repairing it. For example, we need to help the general public in the backlog exacerbated by this pandemic.
The bigger picture is there is a long-broken trust that will continue to take work to build trust within Black communities. According to the UK GOV website March 2021, there are 10, 494 Nigerians in the NHS. In 1996, Pfizer launched a new antibiotic drug. The drug Pfizer introduced had shown problems with adults, but it went ahead on children. Many children died and surviving ones were left with disabilities. Many will have witnessed the devastation Pfizer has done to Nigeria. This mistrust has extended to the Muslim population. What this has revealed is the deep-rooted medical racism within our healthcare. Only recently, French doctors in 2020 advocated to test the vaccine in Africa. After receiving backlash, they apologised. These doctors are in powers of position, and of course White.
Staff continue to wear masks, PPE, take lateral flow and PCR tests, and reduce socialisation. We do this to stop further spread of COVID-19. What the people in power have decided is to shorten isolation around COVID-19. We know people are still infectious after five days. They have decided we do not need PCR tests if you have a positive lateral flow test, which is very worrying as some people have no symptoms that cannot be detected on lateral, but PCR. We’re still seeing higher numbers of admission to hospital because of COVID-19. This is not the time repay staff by forcing them to lose their jobs because of mandatory staff vaccinations.