Extension of mandatory vaccination
The government has published its response to the consultation on 'Making vaccination a condition of deployment in the health and wider social care sector'. As anticipated, the mandatory vaccination requirement is being extended to all providers of CQC-related activities, so that only individuals who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to be deployed to roles where they interact with patients and service users.
Regulations will be introduced and workers who have direct, face-to-face contact with service users will be required to provide evidence that they have been vaccinated, subject to limited exemptions. This will include front-line workers, as well as non-clinical workers not directly involved in patient care but who nevertheless may have direct, face-to-face contact with patients, such as receptionists, ward clerks, porters and cleaners.
The regulations will apply to workers in health and social care settings, including hospitals, GP practices, and where care is delivered in a person's home. The requirements will apply to CQC-regulated activities whether they are publicly or privately funded. They will also apply where a regulated activity is delivered through agency workers, volunteers or trainees, or contracted to another provider.
The Regulations won't come into force until 1 April next year to allow time for implementing the necessary measures. There will be no exemption from vaccination on grounds of religious belief. There will however be an exemption for those under 18 (it had been mooted that the requirement should apply to those aged 16 and over following the extension of the vaccine roll-out) but this decision will be kept under review.
The consultation had considered the issue of whether the flu jab should also be mandated, but the government has decided not to go down this route at present. It will keep this under review ahead of next winter.
The mandatory vaccination requirement comes into force for CQC-registered care homes on Thursday (11 November) and we have seen it have a real impact on retention and recruitment in social care. Although the requirement will not apply to the health care sector for the next five months, we anticipate that it will face similar difficulties.