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COVID and coerced consent: a breach of the Code?

13 January 2022
Volume 31 · Issue 1

In November 2021, the Health Secretary announced mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for frontline healthcare staff, with those declining vaccination being either re-deployed or potentially made redundant. A similar announcement had been made earlier regarding care home staff (Lee and Jackson, 2021). This raises the question: if an individual comes for vaccination because of such a ‘threat’, is their consent to vaccination valid, and is the nurse carrying out the vaccination acting in accordance with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code (NMC, 2018)?

Consider the situation where a registered practitioner is about to administer medication to a patient who has capacity. The patient tells them they do not want the medication, but that they are being pressured to take it—should the practitioner administer the medication? It is established law that a patient with capacity has the right to refuse any and all interventions (Re T, 1992), and that for consent to be valid it has to be given freely, which does not appear to be the case here.

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