Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said:“Unfortunately, London mayor Sadiq Khan’s declaration of ‘a major incident’, as coronavirus rates soar in the capital, has been on the cards for a number of days.

“We are in a race against time to get the vaccination programme fully up to speed – and we urge all members of the public to abide strictly by the social distancing rules.

“We strongly echo the call to stay at home from the mayor and NHS leaders. The biggest thing people can do to help the NHS is ‘stay at home’, with the infection rate now running at 1 in 30 people in the capital.

“Every individual’s actions and personal responsibility can contribute to saving lives – we can’t emphasise this enough.

“At present, that is the best way to curb infection rates and relieve the pressure on the capital’s hospitals’ capacity and beds – and give support to our dedicated NHS staff. Our members in the NHS in London report they are exhausted by the flood of Covid-19 patients.

“Health secretary Matt Hancock; vaccination minister Nadim Zahawi; and NHS England officials need to give clarity to health service staff - not just in London, but across the country - about when they will receive the vaccine and assurance that the second dose will be given to health service staff as soon as possible rather than being told to wait 12 weeks. 

“All health service staff from doctors to cleaners and nurses to security guards should have access to rapid Covid-19 testing without delay and this should also be available to contractors and outsourced providers.

“A strategy for delivering the vaccine to health service staff and the nation needs to be developed, executed and publicised and should include an almost wartime mobilisation of resources to roll out the vaccination programme as quickly as possible and a massive recruitment campaign to fill some of the estimated 100,000 vacancies in the health service, coupled with an early and significant pay rise for health service staff to boost morale. 

“I urge all health service staff with issues of PPE, vaccinations and testing to contact their trade unions and the relevant management within their employer, so we can be part of the process to ensure our health staff are not left high and dry at this moment of national crisis.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Unite has 100,000 members in the health service.

A major incident is defined as an event or situation with a range of serious consequences which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agency.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.