A former midwife is calling on people to join a campaign offering support for NHS workers facing the sack over the jabs mandate.
Sally Jacobs, who works at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital as a maternity nurse, could lose her job over Government's mandate that all NHS staff must have received two Covid vaccinations by April 1.
A document by Department of Health and Social Care officials leaked to The Guardian last week says around 70,000 NHS workers could be affected by the mandate.
Sally, aged 52, is organising a Clap for the Sacked event in Lewsey Road on Thursday (January 27), and is encouraging anyone feeling isolated, suicidal or unsupported by the ruling, to join and support each other.
She has spent most of her working life at the L&D after starting as a student nurse there in 1997. and says she loves her job. But she does not want to have the coronavirus vaccination.
"It's nothing to do with the jab, it's about bodily integrity," she said. "I'm not anti vaccination, I'm pro bodily integrity. I had Covid early on and I know that I have the antibodies, it gave me the confidence to go back to work."
She said part of her training was about allowing people to make informed choices about their own body. "If I gave people a jab without their consent it would be classed as assault.
"People are intelligent enough to assess the risks and this mandate is making people dig their heels in."
Sally was one of thousands of people who took part in marches throughout the country on Saturday, opposing the vax mandate for healthcare workers. She joined people throwing their scrubs into Downing Street during the protests. She is also a regular at the 'Stand in the Parks' event, which take place in Wardown Park on Sundays as part of a nationwide campaign celebrating freedom, diversity, and fairness for all.
Sally knows she could be out of a job if the mandate goes ahead, but fears what she describes as the "outrageous" Government decision should be stopped.
"It's about making a principled stand for something you believe in," she said.
The Clap for the Sacked event is in Lewsey Road from 8pm and all are welcome.
"For a long time I felt isolated, frightened and at times suicidal about the loss of career and income, finding others who have assessed their individual risk has helped me, so I want any others who are in the same boat to know they’re not alone," she said.
"So the 27th is a way to show this and hopefully a good turn out will demonstrate there’s also public support."
The chief executive of the Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, David Carter, told a Luton Council scrutiny health and social care review group meeting last week that time was running out on getting staff vaccinated in time for the deadline.
He said: "We're looking at all the staff who appear unvaccinated at this point. Our vaccination rates were about 90 per cent of staff.
"Some are just pre-retirement who've not had it and will be departing anyway, and some have been vaccinated overseas or in other places and the national databases aren't updated yet.
"We don't know how many staff will be in that position. The reality is we'd have very limited ability to redeploy the staff into other roles.
"We're doing everything we can to minimise that number. We're hoping it will be a relatively low figure, perhaps small hundreds, but that still could be significant.
"I'm worried about the effect on staffing morale and the way people feel about it. There are very strong views.
"A number have become more entrenched in their position not to be vaccinated because it's mandatory.
"We understand why the government decided to do this to protect everyone," he added. "Our time is running out. Staff need to be vaccinated by early February for their first vaccination."
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