Following public consultation on the issue, the government has announced its decision on the proposal to extend the requirement for compulsory vaccinations as a condition of deployment to health and wider social care settings.
The government will introduce legislation that will require providers of Care Quality Commission (CQC)-regulated activities to only deploy individuals who have been vaccinated against coronavirus to roles where they interact closely with patients and service users. The requirement will apply equally where a regulated activity is delivered through agency workers, volunteers or trainees, or contracted to another provider. Exemptions will be granted on health grounds but not religious.
The response to the consultation sets out where there are exceptions to the requirement, including CQC-regulated activities in residential settings such as:
This means that the requirement for compulsory vaccination will only apply to the staff providing the CQC registered care service within these settings. Other staff, such as cleaners, housing management and repairs staff, will not be within the scope of the requirement. This decision will be kept under review.
The government has said it recognises that there are concerns about the impact of implementing vaccination requirements at a time of significant pressure on services this winter. Therefore the regulations will not come into force until 1 April 2022 in order to provide the health and care sector with enough time to implement the requirement and help minimise risks to workforce capacity over the winter period.
Thank you to all those who submitted feedback to our request for responses to the above consultation. We welcome this decision as it is broadly in line with the position that our members wanted to see. We are urging the government to learn from the experience of the implementation of this policy in the care home sector and recognise that it will exacerbate recruitment difficulties in the care sector. We will continue to monitor the government’s position as the winter progresses and as considerations are made for the 2022/23 winter.