U-turn on mandatory vaccine for healthcare staff

HEALTHCARE leaders in England are being advised not to serve termination notices to unvaccinated staff as the government prepares to withdraw measures to make vaccination a condition of deployment.

Legislation requiring certain workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 was due to come into force on April 1. But the Secretary of State for Health And Social Care Sajid Javid announced that this requirement is being removed, subject to consultation and parliamentary approval. The condition applied to people providing direct, face-to-face CQC-regulated activities.

A guidance letter sent out to healthcare leaders by NHS England and NHS Improvement said: “We are aware that, based on the guidance already issued to the service, you will have begun to prepare for formal meetings with staff on their deployment if they remain unvaccinated.

“This change in Government policy means we request that employers do not serve notice of termination to employees affected by the VCOD [vaccination as a condition of deployment] regulations.”

The government said the vaccine mandate was being revoked due to the impact of the Omicron variant, which has made two vaccine doses “less effective over time”.

But it urged healthcare staff to ensure they are fully vaccinated, saying: “While the legal requirement on deployment is set to be revoked, those working in health and social care still have a professional duty to get vaccinated and ‘Get Boosted Now’”.

The government added that it would work closely with Royal Colleges and professional regulators to strengthen Covid guidance and requirements for healthcare workers.

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