Nearly half of non-NHS nurses and temporary nurses are waiting for their second Covid jab, compared to just 24% who permanently work for the NHS, a survey has found.
The RCN warned that ‘every effort must be made to prevent nursing staff from slipping through the net’ following its poll of 20,370 members, which revealed 46% of non-NHS nursing staff, 49% of temporary staff and 32% of agency staff are still waiting for their second jab.
The college pointed out that many of these non-NHS staff who have not been vaccinated a second time work with some of the most vulnerable patients in the community and care homes.
The poll, which ran from 31 March to 6 April, also found 5.6% of agency staff had still not been offered a vaccine, compared with only 1.3% of permanent staff. Overall, 94% of respondents had received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 62% received both doses.
The RCN acknowledged the gap between NHS and non-NHS nurses had ‘narrowed significantly’ since its poll in January found 71% of non-NHS nurses – from care homes, the private sector and some community roles – had been vaccinated at least once compared to 91% of NHS staff.
In addition, the January survey found 44% of agency staff and 27% of temporary staff have not yet received the jab, compared to 12% of permanent staff and 15% of nurses overall.
RCN director of nursing, policy and public affairs Jude Diggins said: ‘The gap between NHS and non-NHS staff having their first dose has closed but there remains more work to be done to ensure all nursing staff, whatever setting they work in, are given the protection they need.’
‘Every effort must be made to prevent nursing staff from slipping through the net. Their safety has to be the government’s top concern and that cannot be compromised.’
Last week, experts from across health and social care warned the closure of the Covid-19 jab booking service to non-NHS health and social care staff risks reducing vaccination rates among priority groups.