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Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations: What is the CQC approach?
The CQC has said it will adopt a ‘proportionate’ approach when enforcing any breaches of the impending mandatory COVID-19 regulations.
From 11 November all care home workers and other visiting professionals will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have an exemption or there is an emergency. The new regulations currently apply to England only.
In short what this means for you is that registered persons (registered managers, registered providers) will need to ensure that they do not allow anyone entry into a care home unless they have had a complete course of an authorised vaccine or exempt from being vaccinated.
This change can be found in government guidance, see below. The CQC is advising providers, managers, and staff to read it and take any ‘necessary actions in order to be ready for when this duty is in place’.
CQC and the mandatory COVID-19 regulations
The CQC states the new requirement forms part of the fundamental standards and will be monitored and enforced in appropriate cases.
However, this will not start until the regulations start in November. So, for now it will continue to use existing assessment and enforcement policies and take a proportionate approach.
CQC will seek assurance from new providers, and from existing providers varying their conditions of registration, that they will have a robust governance process to:
- Monitor vaccination and COVID-19 status of staff
- Ensure staff maintain an up-to-date vaccination status (by providing guidance and assistance for staff to get vaccinated) and ensure staff maintain up-to-date best IPC practice
- Monitor vaccination and COVID-19 status of personnel entering the care home, and
- Where applicable, make reasonable adjustments to ensure people using the service receive safe care and treatment
New Manager Applications
CQC will seek assurance that:
- Applicants are fully vaccinated or exempt
- Applicants are aware of their duties in relation to the new regulations regarding COVID-19 vaccination
Ongoing monitoring and inspection
- Monitoring that providers comply with the regulations is CQC’s responsibility
- It proposes to add the following question to the Provider Information Return (PIR) once this duty is in place: ‘How are you assured that those you employ and deploy within your service are vaccinated in line with government requirements?’
- It will also build a similar question into its monitoring approach once this duty is in place. Further information will be provided on this
- Where it has any information of concern, through any route, it will follow this up. This may include seeking assurance from the provider or carrying out an on-site inspection
- On inspection, where the information it holds identifies concerns, it will look for evidence to confirm systems and processes are in place to comply with the requirement
- Registered persons will not be required to show a record of the evidence itself to inspectors but will need to be able to provide reassurance that systems and processes are in place to ensure individuals who enter the premises are fully vaccinated. Registered persons may choose to make a record of the evidence they have seen for their own internal staff employment record keeping. If the evidence is collected and recorded, all personal data must be handled in accordance with UK GDPR. This includes providing individuals with privacy information at the stage their data is being collected
- Registered persons (or those acting on behalf of the registered person) must check that anyone wishing to enter the premises has received a full course of vaccination unless they are exempt. CQC inspectors are included within the scope of visiting professionals for the purpose of this regulation. Compliance with the regulations would be an appropriate reason for not granting access to a CQC inspector, or another individual, unless they are exempt
- Any enforcement activity which is generated as a result of a breach of the amended regulations will be undertaken on a proportionate basis, based on the CQC’s assessment of the impact on quality of care and people’s safety. The regulator, in line with its existing enforcement policy will decide whether/what action to take based on proportionality, treating each case individually and on its own merits, in line with its enforcement policy.
For more information
- Information Commissioner’s Office - https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/
- CQC enforcement policy - https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/regulations-enforcement/offences-health-social-care-act-2008-regulated-activities
- Vaccination of people working or deployed in care homes: operational guidance - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vaccination-of-people-working-or-deployed-in-care-homes-operational-guidance
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