Consultation launched on extension of mandatory vaccination to healthcare and NHS staff

The government has launched a consultation looking at whether mandatory vaccination requirements should apply for healthcare and NHS staff and wider social care workers.

It would mean only those who have completed a full course of a Covid-19 vaccine, unless medically exempt, could be deployed to deliver health and care services.

The consultation will also seek views on whether flu vaccines should be a requirement for health and care workers.

This consultation follows the five-week consultation launched on 14 April for residential adult social care settings, which has subsequently been enacted and comes into force on 11 November.

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England welcomed the move.

“The consultation represents a small step towards creating a level playing field between the NHS and social care. We hope this will help alleviate some of the workforce pressures rife within the sector induced as a result of residential care settings having been singled out initially. However, despite the launch of the consultation, there still remain unanswered questions, such as where Covid-19 boosters fit into the picture, as well as an absence of central guidance around exemptions,” he said.

Martin Green

Meanwhile, there have been calls for greater clarity on what represents a ‘medical exemption’ for care staff that would allow them to work without being vaccinated.

James Sage, employment partner and head of social care at legal firm Royds Withy King said: “One of the major problems with DHSC’s guidance is that it fails to provide clarity around what counts as a medical exemption and how staff can evidence it. Further guidance has been promised but has still not materialised.

“Until exemptions guidance is published, providers cannot properly consult with staff asserting an exemption. Consultation processes are being delayed, and care provider’s face significantly increased costs in having to pay in lieu of notice for staff who are found not to be exempt.

Sage also called on ministers to provide guidance on how to obtain evidence of vaccination from staff vaccinated abroad with a UK authorised vaccine.

“Providers run the risk of not being able to employ these fully vaccinated staff after 11 November, thereby unnecessarily increasing the risk of losing staff from the sector,” he said.

Date published: September 22, 2021