Unite Scotland has today (24 February) called for all NHS workers to be vaccinated in the fight against COVID-19. It has been brought to the attention of Unite that across NHS Scotland there is an inconsistent approach to the way in which staff are being prioritised, depending on which health board they work for.

In NHS Tayside some staff are not being vaccinated as they are not considered to be ‘front-facing’. However, the same workers are still working in COVID areas within hospitals and dealing with other ‘front-facing’ staff who are in contact with COVID patients. The staff members also have to travel through COVID areas to get to and from their areas of work. This is in sharp contrast with areas like NHS Ayrshire and Arran who are providing vaccinations for all of their workers.

Unite is now calling on health boards to prioritise all NHS staff for the vaccine on the basis that all NHS staff are ‘service critical’. Unite is repeating the argument it used when the trade union successfully got all NHS 24 and Scottish Ambulance Service workers vaccinated on the basis that every worker is critical to the smooth operation of the NHS.

James O’Connell, Unite industrial officer, said: “The fact that certain NHS boards are not offering every single worker this vaccine as a priority can only be viewed as an insult to the absolute critical nature of their roles. We cannot understate how damaging this perceived hierarchy is to NHS operations and to staff morale."

“Every member of staff in our NHS is as vital as the other. People work as a team, and they should be vaccinated as a team. Be it a cleaner or a consultant they all have vital responsibilities to keep our NHS functioning at its very best, and it is time that health boards recognised this.”

“All Unite is asking for is a fair and consistent opportunity for all staff to receive their vaccine as a priority. Every NHS worker is ‘service critical’ and we are calling on every health board in Scotland to offer vaccinations to all their workers.”