The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has published its response to the government consultation on making COVID-19 vaccination a condition of deployment in the health and wider social care sector.
The government has decided that providers of CQC-regulated activities in the health and social care sector must only deploy individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to roles where they have direct, face-to-face contact with patients and service users. Full vaccination means that individuals must have received a full course of COVID-19 vaccination in line with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) guidance. Front-line workers, as well as non-clinical workers not directly involved in patient care, such as receptionists, ward clerks, porters and cleaners, will be caught by the new rules. The requirements will apply whether a regulated activity is delivered through agency workers, volunteers or trainees or contracted to another provider. For health and care workers who may be exempt, the CQC-registered person must have seen evidence of their medical exemption before they can deliver care.
The government will implement the mandatory vaccination requirement for the health and social care sector by amending the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2936), as was also done to implement mandatory vaccination of care home staff. The amending regulations, which will come into force on 1 April 2022, will be subject to a 12-week grace period to give employers and workers in the health and social care sector time to meet the new regulatory requirements. Operational guidance will also be produced to facilitate implementation.
While the policy will not apply to COVID-19 boosters or the flu vaccine at this time, the government will keep this under review, and if necessary, bring forward amendments to the regulations.