Following consultation, the government has announced that from 15 March 2022, the requirement for mandatory vaccination as a condition of employment for all frontline health and social care workers and volunteers in England (including the NHS) will no longer apply. The government has also updated operational guidance documents on vaccination of people working in care homes and social care settings other than care homes to take account of the decision to revoke mandatory vaccination.
The regulations (subject to parliamentary approval) ensure that all those workers who were previously required to be vaccinated due to having direct face-to-face contact with people while providing care, such as doctors, nurses, dentists, domiciliary care workers and ancillary staff, will no longer be required to be vaccinated in order to be employed.
The response to the consultation was overwhelming with 90% of respondents supporting revocation and 9% opposing. The government’s rationale for introducing the consultation was due to the significant uptake in vaccination amongst health and social care workers and the general public. Data collected for the NHS shows that 95% NHS Trust staff have received at least one dose, 92% have received two doses and 77% have received a booster. Together with the clinical evidence of Omicron being a less severe variant, the requirement of mandatory vaccination was no longer proportionate.
However, the government has emphasised that they still consider all those working in health and social care have a duty to be vaccinated in order to protect those they care for against COVID-19. It is therefore understood that the government will work closely with medics and health professional regulators to improve guidance on the prevention and control of infections.
Simon deMaid comments:
“The latest announcement by the government brings an end to a generally unpopular requirement and has been welcomed by many health care professional bodies and providers.
However, this change regrettably came too late to reverse the staffing crisis within the care sector which saw staffing levels decrease by 19,300 between July and December 2021. It is unclear whether we will see now workers returning to the care sector following their dismissals, given that they are likely to have found other employment by now.
Thankfully, employers can now end any ongoing consultations with employees who were otherwise going to be dismissed on 31 March 2022, under the current regulations, at the end of the exemption ‘self-certification’ period. Employers should also reflect upon their current policies and procedures and ensure they are up to date with the new regulations coming into force”
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