• Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust will not hire clinical staff who have not had MMR vaccination 
  • Decision follows “alarming rise” in measles cases across West Midlands

A West Midlands trust will no longer recruit staff who have not had an immunisation for mumps, measles and rubella.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust has decided to make the MMR vaccination a requirement for any future clinical staff, following an “alarming” increase in measles cases across the West Midlands.

According to Public Health England data, there were 82 confirmed cases of measles in the West Midlands between January and December 2018. 

However, London, the South East and the South West, had higher numbers of confirmed cases with 388, 181 and 139 identified respectively. Overall, 966 cases were reported.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust’s chief nurse, Paula Gardner, said: “With an alarming rise in cases of measles, we need to ensure our staff and patients are appropriately protected so we have been exploring how best to ensure strong vaccination coverage among employees.

“We have decided to tighten our recruitment process in some high risk areas, by offering roles to clinical staff conditional on their immunisation status. This would mean they would not be appointed unless they have been appropriately vaccinated.

“I understand that many of our neighbouring trusts are also considering a similar approach.”

HSJ asked what the new policy meant for the trust’s existing staff who had not been vaccinated but did not receive a response. 

A PHE spokeswoman said: “Measles reports have declined from the high numbers seen last year but ongoing outbreaks in Europe leave the UK at risk. By ensuring they’re vaccinated, healthcare professionals will benefit themselves and also protect their patients, who in some cases will be particularly vulnerable.”

She added: “All staff should be up to date with their routine immunisations but how that is done is a decision for each trust.”