HEALTH and social care staff in England, including doctors, nurses, dentists and domiciliary care workers, will be required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 unless exempt, under plans announced by the Health and Social Care Secretary.
The Government says the measures will help protect both patients and workers in the health service. The regulations will also apply to ancillary staff, such as porters or receptionists who may have social contact with patients but are not directly involved in their care.
Over 92 per cent of NHS workers have already been vaccinated and 89.9 per cent have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Nearly 84 per cent of domiciliary care workers have had their first dose and 74.6 per cent have had both doses.
Latest published data shows that over 103,000 NHS Trust workers and 105,000 domiciliary care workers have not been reported as fully vaccinated and the government is urging them to take up the offer now.
Enforcement would begin from 1 April 2022, subject to parliamentary approval. The Government says this will allow time for health and social care providers to prepare and encourage workers uptake before the measures are introduced. It points out there is a longstanding precedent for vaccination in NHS roles, such as for Hepatitis B among healthcare professionals undertaking exposure-prone procedures.
The measure is an extension to previously announced regulations making Covid-19 vaccination a condition of deployment for staff working in CQC-registered care homes in England, which came into force on 11 November 2021.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Vaccines save lives and patient safety is paramount. Many of the people being treated in hospitals or cared for at home are the most vulnerable to Covid-19. We have a responsibility to give patients and staff the best possible protection.”
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, commented: "While the BMA has serious concerns about making vaccination mandatory, we’re pleased that the Government has, as we recommended, decided to delay the policy of mandatory vaccination for Covid-19 until spring next year, and released both its workforce impact assessment and it’s equality impact assessment.
"Given the current staffing crisis in the NHS and the possible implications of trying to introduce such measures in the midst of winter pressures, waiting until April is sensible, but it’s equally important that the Government is aware of the consequences this policy could have even after the delay – and that clear steps are taken to mitigate this risk."