The Royal Melbourne Hospital has taken at least 35 staff members off duty over their alleged refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The policy is part of the Victoria government's mandate that all healthcare workers across the state be immunised by the end of October.
The decision to take workers temporarily off the roster would allow them to "potentially rethink their position" while enabling the hospital management to "go through the process that may potentially lead to further terminations of employment," a representative of the hospital said.
Apart from standing down unvaccinated employees, the hospital also terminated eight staff members and accepted the resignation of eight more. Overall, the 51 employees account for less than one per cent of the entire hospital workforce, which numbers 11,000, The Guardian reported.
While the list does not include doctors, the majority of employees who were stood down reportedly came from a range of divisions, from nursing to clinical work to administration.
In early October, New South Wales saw a similar percentage (<1%) of staff at NSW Health quit over the state's own vaccination requirement.
Meanwhile, the professional group Australian Medical Association – which supports the vaccination drive in the healthcare sector – is calling for an overarching national vaccination policy which would require all healthcare workers to be immunised. This regulation may also legally protect employers who implement workplace vaccination rules.