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Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said compulsory vaccination for health professionals in England was "not the right way forward".

Frontline staff in England must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with two jabs by April 1 – meaning they must have had their first dose by February 3.

"the right thing to do to protect patients"

NHS workers who oppose the government's mandatory vaccination policy have staged a protest in central London.

scotland and wales have not made the vaccines compulsory for health or care workers.

he said the vast majority of staff who worked with patients and choose not to be vaccinated "will be redeployed where that is possible, or potentially dismissed".

"We do have to acknowledge that as the deadline approaches some frontline staff will have to leave their present roles if they continue to decline to be vaccinated."

saffron cordery, deputy chief executive of nhs providers, added : "trust leaders are worried about exacerbating staff shortages at a time when the service is under huge operational pressures.

"i don't expect us to go looking for people out of the service."

An impact assessment by the Department of Health and Social Care found that 73,000 NHS staff in England could be lost as a result of the policy.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has urged NHS staff in England who have not had their mandatory Covid-19 vaccines to do so amid calls for the deadline to be delayed.

Frontline healthcare workers in England must have two doses of Covid vaccine by 1 April, meaning they need to receive their first dose by 3 February to meet the deadline and avoid potentially losing their job.

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Morning programme, Raab argued there was no need to postpone the deadline because the NHS was more resilient than it was in 2020, with more staff on which to draw.

"We continue to call for those to come forward to be boosted or vaccinated before the deadline," he said.

“ ultimately we have to make sure that we don't have people putting patients at risk if they are not vaccinated.

"the deadline is there to protect the most vulnerable in our hospitals, but we have got the resilience because we have got nearly 5,000 more doctors, nearly 11,000 more nurses than we did in 2020."

Northern Ireland plans a public consultation on the issue.

The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, told BBC Radio 4 that he would not rule out recruiting NHS staff who lost their jobs in England, but added : "We certainly won't be going out there looking for them."

Pat Cullen, the chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said the policy would backfire if it was not delayed, while Danny Mortimer, the deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations within the health service, said its members wanted more time to encourage and persuade hesitant staff to get vaccinated.

"our survey of trust leaders found that while there was a range of views towards a policy of mandatory vaccinations, a majority backed this policy as a means of protecting colleagues, patients and visitors from cross-infection by unvaccinated staff." she said.

She said : "Nothing matters more to a nurse than caring for their patients safely.

"Some organisations are calling for a delay in the implementation of this policy, but we don't think that is the answer.

Today's big political story in the UK is an exclusive from i ’ s Paul Waugh with the potential to save 70,000 NHS staff from the sack.

Some medics warn that ploughing ahead with mass dismissals would be self-sabotage.

Cynics might observe that a U-turn wouldn't hurt Boris Johnson.

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