A new national mission for the NHS: boosting our defences against Omicron

Open letter from the Chief Nursing, Pharmaceutical and Allied Health Professions Officers for England, and NHS National Medical Director

To: Registered healthcare professionals

17 December 2021

Dear colleagues,

COVID-19 has been – and continues to be – the single greatest public health emergency in the history of the NHS.

The response of healthcare professionals and others who have come forward to help – whether the tens of thousands of former staff and students, or the hundreds of thousands of volunteers – has however been nothing short of inspirational.

It is because of this response that in just one year since making history by delivering the first COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial, the NHS in England has been able to deliver over 100 million doses, saving an estimated 127,000 lives and preventing hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions.

We would like to take this opportunity to yet again thank every one of you for the contribution you have made so far, however you have made it, and for the sacrifices that were necessary to achieve all that you have achieved for our patients and the wider country.

The emergence of the Omicron variant and how it is impacting on our communities, and therefore the NHS, means we must once again ask for your support.

In the immediate future, that means doing everything we can to ensure that as many people as possible can benefit from the protection of a COVID-19 booster vaccination.

For those of you working in the NHS already, this may mean temporary redeployment to vaccination services, or to backfill the other urgent and emergency services we must maintain for those patients who need them. Please do engage with any requests made of you to do so – and if you think you could help but haven’t been asked, please discuss with your line manager.

For others, like some students, former colleagues and registered professionals working outside the NHS, this means another opportunity to help out your frontline colleagues; again, please do respond when the call comes. If you don’t currently work in the NHS or in an NHS commissioned service, please visit www.england.nhs.uk/joinvaccineteam to find out how you could help. If you have already volunteered to help the NHS and the NHS has not yet taken up your services, you do not need to re-register and we will get in touch with you.

While the vaccination programme will continue for a number of months, to help ensure we save as many lives as possible, the best time to put yourself forward is now. If you can help in any capacity, please consider doing so; your NHS needs you now more than ever.

Thank you and best wishes

Ruth May | Chief Nursing Officer for England

Professor Stephen Powis | NHS National Medical Director

Suzanne Rastrick | Chief Allied Health Professions Officer

Dr Keith Ridge CBE | Chief Pharmaceutical Officer