NHS frontline staff in England are expected to be told Covid vaccines will be mandatory, with the Government set to announce a deadline of next spring to receive both doses.

The announcement is expected to be made later on Tuesday with the Department of Health saying they will not be commenting on the timing of the announcement.

However, NHS officials said they expected the move to happen, which would affect the thousands of unvaccinated staff working in the health service.

Care home workers in England have already been told they must be fully vaccinated by the deadline of this Thursday.

Hampshire Chronicle: Daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK. (PA)Daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK. (PA)

NHS Providers chief executive, Chris Hopson, said that if mandatory vaccination for NHS staff is approached in the right way it could actually result in a rise in the take-up of jabs.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you look at other nations that have done this, there is no doubt that if you do it carefully, at the point when you announce the fact that you are going to have mandatory vaccinations in the sector, it does provide quite a useful opportunity to then have those kind of further conversations.

“So, if we get it right, actually, it could be quite a useful spur in some senses to drive the take-up up, but the bit that we just need to be careful of, as I said, is avoiding scapegoating people.”

Losing NHS staff would be a ‘real problem’

Mr Hopson warned that the NHS and the social care sector losing “significant numbers of staff” would be a “real problem”.

He said: “The problem for both social care and the NHS is we run these systems incredibly hot on very, very fine margins.

“Both of us have got around 90 to 100,000 vacancies.

“We are completely reliant on our staff to … work extra shifts in order to do the work that needs to be done.

“So losing significant numbers of staff, particularly given the pressure that both of the systems are under at the moment, is a real, real problem.

“And that’s why we’re very clear with the Government they need to help us manage this risk.”

Hampshire Chronicle: New cases of Covid-19 in the UK. (PA)New cases of Covid-19 in the UK. (PA)

Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab refused to comment on the reports.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I don’t comment on leaked reports about what the Government may or may not do, and that’s just not the professional thing for a minister to do.

“Obviously, we set out our announcements on this in the usual way.

“I think it’s right to say that we’ve been very mindful of encouraging greater take-up – or maximum take-up if you like – of the vaccination and the boosters to go with it, but not just across the country at large, but particularly in vulnerable settings, like care homes and in the NHS.”