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Trust CEO asks for ‘scientific evidence’ on covid vaccine safety to reassure staff

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NHS trust chief executives have told HSJ  they need more clarity the Pfizer-BioNTech covid vaccine is safe to reassure their worried staff. 

Trusts were told last week they need to be ready to start vaccinating their staff from early next month. On Tuesday, it was confirmed that they would initially be asked to use the covid vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, assuming it is granted a licence by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Speaking at the HSJ Provider Virtual Summit, St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust chief executive Jacqueline Totterdell said there was a lot of “anxiety” around the vaccine among her staff. Leeds Community Healthcare Trust chief Thea Stein added leaders in her city feel “anxious and uncertain”.

Ms Totterdell said: “As a responsible officer for 9,000 staff, I also need to be clear that the vaccination is safe. That bit of narrative just needs to come out from the centre, about the reasons why they think it is safe.

“I think there is a lot of anxiety, and some of the polls we’ve done around south west London show that as little as 50 per cent of people are willing just to have it without any of that [assurance]."

Northumbria Healthcare FT chief executive Sir Jim Mackey, who also spoke at the summit, admitted he was “a bit surprised” by some staff who said they were not going to get the vaccine.

The former NHS Improvement chief added: “I think when it actually comes to it, and we get the messaging right about it, not just the responsibility for you but also your responsibility for the people you work with… then the vast majority of people will get it and take confidence in the fact that it’s been developed really quickly and effectively.

“These things don’t get signed off if they’re dangerous, so we need to embrace it as the thing that’s going to get us back to normal.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 26 November 2020

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