What do we already know?
We updated you in our July 2021 Newsletter Government reforms (2): Coronavirus (Covid-19): Mandatory vaccinations for care home staff that the Government announced that from October 2021 anyone working in a registered care home providing nursing or personal care would need to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated with both doses.
We also told you that the Government’s guidance on mandatory vaccinations said that care home staff must be fully vaccinated by 11 November 2021, unless exempt.
In November the Government announced that anyone working in health and social care services who interacts with patients and service users, would also need to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated with both doses.
This legislation will come into force on 1 April 2022. From this date providers of CQC-regulated (Care Quality Commission) activities will only be allowed to deploy individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to roles where they interact with patients and service users.
It will be the responsibility of the CQC-registered person, either the service provider or registered manager, to ensure that they only deploy staff who have provided evidence that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. This covers staff who have direct, face to face contact with patients and other service users: including 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.
There are limited exemptions from the requirement for staff:
- under the age of 18;
- who are clinically exempt from COVID-19 vaccination;
- who have taken part or are currently taking part in a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine;
- who do not have direct, face to face contact with a service user, for example, those providing care remotely, such as through triage or telephone consultations or managerial staff working in sites apart from patient areas; or
- who provide care as part of a shared lives agreement.
For employers who operate in the health and social care services, we recommend the following to start to prepare for these changes:
- ensure that staff are aware of the need to be vaccinated and consider asking for, and recording, the vaccination status of all frontline staff. You should look to establish who is medically exempt and whether there is anyone who does not intend to be vaccinated and, if so, why not.
- continue to monitor the status of employees that are intending to be vaccinated ahead of the deadline;
- consider what the plan is for staff members who are not medically exempt and do not intend to get their vaccine. Is redeployment feasible? If not their notice periods should be considered, as dismissal may need to be considered.
- consider whether staffing levels will be affected on 1 April 2022 if you have a number of staff who will not have been vaccinated. Put a plan in place to help deal with the risk of understaffing.