On 1 March 2022 the Government confirmed that, following public consultation, it intends to proceed with bringing forward regulations to revoke vaccination as a condition of deployment. The regulations will come into force on 15 March ahead of the 1 April deadline when regulations extending the requirement to health and the wider social care were due to come into force.
This short one-week consultation received in excess of 90,000 responses to its online survey, with 90% of respondents supporting revoking the requirement. According to the consultation response, there was some variation between different groups, with members of the public mostly likely to support revocation (96%) whereas 30% of managers and 22% of organisations providing health and care services opposed revocation.
The consultation response confirms the Government will be revoking the regulations relating to both health and social care settings and so the requirement in relation to care homes which had already come into force on 11 November 2021 will also be revoked.
But is this the end of vaccination as a condition of deployment? The consultation response states:
“Both the government and stakeholders are clear that those working in health and social care have a professional responsibility to be vaccinated if they can be.”
“The government will continue to work with the professional regulators to review current guidance to registrants on vaccinations, including COVID-19, and to emphasise their professional responsibilities in this area.”
The joint view of the General Medical Council and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is set out in the consultation response which is that “doctors have a professional duty to protect patients from risks posed by their health, and to be immunised against common serious communicable diseases, unless contraindicated.”
An earlier statement from the Nursing and Midwifery Council on the issue advised all nurses, midwives and nursing associates to be fully vaccinated, but made clear that they do not consider that solely turning down Covid-19 vaccinations is a basis for a Fitness to Practise referral.
It seems that the direction of travel in this area will now have more of a focus on professional regulation. The Government has also set out its intention to consult on the Code of Practice on the prevention and control of infections to strengthen requirements in relation to Covid19 and bring it into line with updated infection prevention and control guidance for registered providers of health and care.
We also await updated guidance and polices and clarity on hiring of new staff and the deployment of existing staff taking into account their vaccination status.
Please do not hesitate to contact Stuart Craig or Jog Hundle should you wish to discuss any of the issues raised here.