Government announces outcome of consultation on mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for NHS workers

Health Secretary, Sajid Javid has confirmed that the Government is to introduce Covid-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment for all frontline health and social care workers.

Thu 11th November 2021 The PDA

Following a recent public consultation, the Government has announced that health and social care workers, including volunteers who have face-to-face contact with service users, will need to provide evidence they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to be deployed in the NHS, under new measures.

Although it is estimated that 90% of NHS staff have already had both jabs, health and social care providers in England will be required to ensure that those that are not exempt but have yet to take up the offer, are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Enforcement will begin on 1 April 2022, subject to Parliamentary approval.

The Department of Health has said that “ensuring the maximum number of NHS staff are vaccinated will help ensure the most vulnerable patients gain the greatest possible levels of protection against infection. Elderly people, those with disabilities and some seriously ill people in hospital face a higher risk from Covid-19 than the wider population and are more likely to use health and care services more often.”

The policy applies to those conducting activities regulated by the CQC (Care Quality Commission), including pharmacists working in GP practices and hospitals. It does not currently apply to those administering Covid-19 boosters or the flu vaccine, the Government will be keeping this under review, and if necessary, bring forward amendments to the regulations. Furthermore, those working in community pharmacies are also excluded from the mandatory requirement to be vaccinated.

The PDA continues to strongly encourage members to participate in the vaccination programme and has promoted a successful #GetVaccinated campaign. We recognise that as health professionals and educated scientists, pharmacists understand the balance between individual choice and the need to protect patients, colleagues, and themselves.

However, there are some pharmacists who are medically exempt from the vaccination, and it is important that they are not unfairly disadvantaged.

The GPhC has said “We responded to the Government consultation on making Covid-19 vaccination a condition of deployment for frontline health and care workers in England who are providing face-to-face care across the CQC-regulated health sector. There was already an existing statutory requirement for those working or volunteering in care homes in England to be vaccinated against Covid-19. We noted in our response that the Government was not proposing to extend the legal mandate to people working in pharmacies regulated by the GPhC. Wherever pharmacy professionals are working we urge them to take up the vaccine.”

The full GPhC statement can be read here.

The PDA acknowledges that there may be a small number of pharmacists who for reasons other than medical exemption do not wish to have the vaccination. As a trade union, we will advise and support PDA members who are affected by this announcement. Anyone who is concerned about their employment should contact the PDA for advice.

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