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10th September 2021

Consultation launched on mandatory vaccinations for health and care staff

Yesterday, the UK government launched a consultation to determine whether vaccination for COVID-19 should be “a condition of deployment” across all health and care settings in England.

The consultation will also now seek the views of health and care professionals as to whether the flu vaccine should also be made compulsory for frontline workers.

Prior to the launch of yesterday’s consultation, in the care sector the COVID-19 vaccination was only due to become a mandatory requirement for frontline carers – and anybody entering a residential care home - from 11 November.

Responding to the announcement, Quality Compliance System’s (QCS) Barry Price, a specialist in adults with learning disabilities and complex needs, said, “As a former care professional with 20 years’ experience, I understand that the question of mandatory vaccinations is quite a divisive issue. However, on many levels, I think that if the government consultation finds in favour of compulsory immunisations for frontline health and care staff this winter who are leaving for settings that are not currently mandated, it will at least help residential and homecare settings to retain staff. That has to be a good thing.”

Nadra Ahmed, Executive Chair of the National Care Association, which is one of QCS’s key partners, said the consultation was “eagerly awaited” and “will create an equal playing field for the health and social care sector”.

She continued, “However, with the care home sector reeling from the introduction of mandatory vaccination within weeks, one has to wonder how this government expects to deal with the devastating impact of this legislation on a fragile and exhausted workforce. The introduction of compulsory flu vaccine is an addition, and raises the issue of where this desire to mandate will end for our workforce. This is not about being anti-vaccination, it is about respecting choice and acknowledging the other measures used and available to keep our care home families safe.”

Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum – the leading association for not-for-profit care providers – and another major partner of QCS, noted that “the new consultation on vaccination as a condition of deployment for the wider and health care sector in many ways raises more questions than it answers”.

She said, “It is clear that as the policy tries to take in more diverse settings and situations the complexities of implementation become ever more apparent. We know from talking to members seeking to implement this within care homes that the policy can cause division and difficulty for staff, and (we) remain of the opinion that there is a need for much more intense support for those who remain hesitant, even in the face of dismissal. There continues to be multiple success stories of staff, who with the right information and advice, are changing their minds for positive reasons, which will strengthen their commitment towards vaccination in the long term.

“In the light of the new consultation, and the remaining questions around exemption for staff, which have not yet been addressed by government, we believe that the implementation of the policy for care homes should be delayed whilst this consultation runs, and timings for compliance for care homes be brought in line with the rest of the care and health sector.”

The consultation, which will close in six weeks, can be viewed here.

Link to consultation:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/making-vaccination-a-condition-of-deployment-in-the-health-and-wider-social-care-sector

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