New guidance on vaccination rules for NHS staff fulfilling an NHS-funded service in a care home

With less than 11 weeks left before new government regulations come into force on 11 November 2021 requiring care home staff and visiting professionals entering a CQC registered care home to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, unless they have a specified exemption, NHS England and NHS Improvement have published (20 August 2021) helpful supporting guidance.

The guidance collection includes a:

  • Letter explaining that all providers of NHS-funded services, including sub-contractors, which enter care homes need to ensure staff can be legally admitted; and
  • Set of FAQs in relation to ensuring NHS staff deployed into care homes have had their Covid vaccination or are exempt. These FAQs should be read alongside the Department of Health and Social Care’s operational guidance – you can read our earlier blog on guidance here.

There are a number of actions that all providers delivering NHS-funded services into a care home need to take, including:

  • Ensure you are aware of the new regulation, the DHSC operational guidance and the new supporting guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement
  • Actively support your staff to have their first Covid vaccine by 16 September 2021, with a minimum of eight weeks between doses
  • Proactively carry out workforce planning to ensure:
    • only staff who are vaccinated, or exempt, are deployed to enter a care home from 1 November; and 
    • service provision is not disrupted once this government regulation comes into force
  • Ensure that all staff will be able to demonstrate to care home staff using the NHS Covid Pass service, the NHS app or an NHS letter that they have either been fully vaccinated or are exempt.
  • Keep a record of staff vaccination / exemption status (although there is no requirement to record the clinical reason behind a medical exemption). An individual’s vaccination status will be ‘special category data’ so ensure compliance with data protection legislation.
  • Have one to one conversations with staff who refuse to be vaccinated and do not have an exemption, conduct risk assessments for staff and services impacted, and consider temporary redeployment or suitable alternative roles, in accordance with employment policies and procedures. NHS staff should be supported to remain working in the health service.

If you would like to discuss any of the HR implications of the new regulations for NHS staff, do get in touch with Joanna Burrows.

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