New guidance on mandatory vaccination of frontline health and care staff

Following the Government’s announcement last month that Covid-19 vaccination is to become a condition of deployment for frontline health and care staff, NHS England and NHS Improvement have published guidance and resources to support providers preparing and planning for when the regulations come into force on 1 April 2022.

The new rules will apply equally across the NHS and independent sector health organisations undertaking activities regulated by the CQC in England, across both primary and secondary care. Their introduction will be subject to Parliament passing the necessary regulations, which will mirror those already in force in the care sector.

Guidance for HR directors and organisations

The focus of this ‘phase one’ guidance is to support providers with compliance with the regulations, maximise vaccination rates and achieve a consistent approach in the planning and preparation for the regulations, with minimal operational differences between organisations.

The 30 page guidance document covers both planning and preparation, and provides further clarity of which individuals are in scope of the regulations and those that are exempt. Supporting the guidance is a set of four helpful appendices detailing a flowchart of workers required to be “vaccinated as a condition of deployment” (VCOD) for healthcare workers, seven VCOD flowchart scenarios, information covering new starters and a final appendix covering key recommended actions checklist.

There is also a helpful graphic setting out key actions and an indicative timeline which provides that, subject to parliamentary approval, unvaccinated individuals will need to have had their first dose of an approved Covid-19 vaccine by 3 February 2022 (this date is subject to change), in order to have received their second dose by the 31 March 2022 deadline.

Supporting the guidance is a document curating useful tools to help increase vaccination uptake among specific groups, such as women of childbearing age and ethnic minority communities and to aid 1:1 conversations that are already taking place across the NHS.

NHSE/I explain that the guidance will be reviewed regularly, and following completion of parliamentary passage, the ‘phase two’ guidance will be published, focusing on the implementation of the new regulations , inclusive of a redeployment framework and advice regarding formal steps for staff who remain unvaccinated on 1 April 2022.

Please do not hesitate to contact Joanna Burrows or Fiona Goodman should you wish to discuss any of the issues raised here.

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