Unfurling the Government’s mandatory vaccination policy: consultation launches

Mandatory vaccination came into force for care home staff in November last year and was due to be introduced for frontline NHS and wider social care staff in regulated settings from 1 April.

Yesterday (9 February 2022) the Government launched its seven day consultation on revoking mandatory vaccination across all health and social care settings in England. This follows the Government’s announcement on 31 January.

The consultation seeks views on the Government's intention to revoke previous amendments to the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (as inserted by the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 and the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No.2) Regulations 2022) known collectively as ‘the regulations’. Responses to the consultation can be submitted using the online survey and by 16 February.

It is worth pausing for thought and noting that the Department of Health and Social Care’s statement announcing the consultation makes clear that:

“While vaccination remains our very best line of defence against COVID-19, and all people working in health and social care settings have a professional duty to be vaccinated, the view of this government is that it is no longer proportionate to require vaccination as a condition of deployment through statute in health, care homes or other social care settings.”

Separately, the Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive, Andrea Sutcliffe CBE made a statement on Covid-19 vaccinations explaining that they do not consider turning down Covid-19 vaccinations is a basis for a Fitness to Practise referral.

The consultation makes the point that the regulations are not the only means of preventing infection in health and social care settings and that the Government has put in place a number of measures on infection prevention and control in both the NHS and social care, including testing. At the start of January, NHS England issued further staff testing guidance and in the social care setting, all adult social care workers taking part in routine asymptomatic testing will be asked to take a rapid lateral flow test each day before starting work, effective from 16 February.

Figures published in the consultation indicate that 95% of NHS trust staff have received at least one dose, with 92% staff having received 2 doses. For social care, 96% of staff in care homes have received a first dose of the vaccine and 95% a second dose. In wider social care settings, while the regulations have not come into force, providers were reporting that 88% of home (domiciliary) care staff and 76% of staff in other settings had received one dose of the vaccine, as of 30 January 2022. 

Do get in touch with Joanna BurrowsStuart CraigFiona GoodmanJog HundleRebecca Pallot, or Surbhi Shah if you’d like to discuss any of the issues raised here.

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