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NHS England and NHS Improvement have published a letter and guidance on vaccination as a condition of deployment for healthcare workers to support providers in preparing and planning for when the regulations are introduced, subject to parliamentary passage. This is iterative guidance which will be reviewed regularly.
The documents include further clarification on which individuals are in scope of the regulations and those which are exempt as well as setting out how workers can evidence that they are vaccinated, information on clinical exemptions, and action plans for planning and preparation.
Regarding the scope of the regulations, the guidance says:
“The regulations apply to health and social care workers who are deployed in respect of a CQC regulated activity, who have direct, face-to-face contact with service users. This include individuals working in non-clinical ancillary roles who enter areas which are utilised for the provision of a CQC-regulated activity as part of their role and who may have social contact with patients, but not directly involved in patient care (e.g. receptionists, ward clerks, porters, and cleaners), regardless of contracted hours or working arrangements. All honorary, voluntary, locum, bank and agency workers, independent contractors, students/trainees over 18, and any other temporary workers are also in scope.
The requirements would not apply to those employed, or otherwise engaged, in the provision of a CQC regulated activity if they do not have direct face to face contact with patients and/or services users/patients.”
Other key points include:
- The registered person is required to demonstrate that they have systems and processes in place to evidence and monitor that all independent contractors, agency or bank staff who have face-to-face contact with patients and/or service users and who are deployed, as part of CQC regulated activity, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Subject to parliamentary passage, the regulations will come into force on 1st April 2022. The means individuals will need to have their first dose of an approved vaccine by 3rd February 2022 (this date is subject to change).
- The regulations will apply to workers aged 18 and over and will apply equally across the NHS and independent health sector.
- The guidance advises that employers should start to review and assess with roles are likely to fall within scope; review and update privacy notices; understand and document in-scope workers vaccination and exemption status; agree arrangements with suppliers; start to identify options for redeployment to non-face-to-face roles; and proactively plan and identify potential workforce redesign.
- It is recommended that formal redeployment of workers should not commence until the regulation has been approved by Parliament.
Resources for engaging and communicating with staff to increase vaccination uptake are also included here.
Following completion of parliamentary passage, the second part of the guidance will be issued, focusing on the implementation of the new regulations inclusive of a redeployment framework and advice regarding formal steps for staff who remain unvaccinated on 1 April 2022.