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Almost a year after healthcare workers started to receive their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine, NHS England has published data on the number of vaccinated staff at each trust.
Unsurprisingly, the trusts with the lowest vaccination rates among staff are in London and Birmingham – areas which have struggled with uptake across the general population.
The figures were quietly published by NHSE in mid-October at a time of growing concern around increased infection rates and low uptake of the booster jab.
There are 16 trusts where one in six staff members have not had two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, all of them in London and Birmingham, while the lowest uptake outside London is at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
The pattern is likely to be related to ethnic background as certain minority ethnic groups, particularly Black African and Black Caribbean, have seen less uptake in the general population. Younger workforces may also play a part.
The trusts with the highest two dose uptake are more scattered – as Derbyshire Community Trust has the highest vaccination rate in the country, followed by Dorset County Hospital and Northumbria Healthcare FT.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has said the government is considering making covid vaccinations compulsory for all healthcare staff, which is likely to be a controversial move. There is also little clarity on how it will be enforced.
Digging deeper into health inequalities
Health inequalities are rising to the forefront of the public’s consciousness – and new research into how NHS practices play into them is starting to take shape.
The nascent NHS Race and Health Observatory is commissioning a review into whether there is evidence of ethnic inequality in neonatal testing and care practices.
It follows on from a rapid review that found the accuracy of pulse oximeter readings from people of minority ethnic backgrounds could be “seriously misleading”, particularly in light of the pandemic.
That led to NHS England and NHS Improvement revising its guidance on its NHS Choices website, while new health and social care secretary Sajid Javid has spoken of his concerns about discrimination in healthcare.
Six months into its launch, the RHO appears to be reaching full flow and its examination of potential bias in medical devices could prove significant.
An invitation to tender has been published, with work hoped to be started before the end of this year and the final report published in August 2022.
As it also explores whether “ethnic health inequalities” exist in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme, one will keep a close eye as to what comes next in this space.