New measures announced by the Government mean that all 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 in order to be deployed.
Health and social care providers in England will be required to ensure workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they are exempt.
The regulations will apply to health and social care workers who have direct, face-to-face contact with people while providing care – such as doctors, nurses, dentists and domiciliary care workers, unless they are exempt. They will also apply to ancillary staff such as porters or receptionists who may have social contact with patients but are not directly involved in their care. This will apply across the CQC-regulated health and social care sector.
The majority of NHS workers are already vaccinated, as over 92.8% have had their first dose and 89.9% have had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. In social care, 83.7% of domiciliary care workers have had their first dose and 74.6% have had both doses.
Latest published data shows, however, that over 103,000 NHS Trust workers and 105,000 domiciliary care workers have not been reported as fully vaccinated and the government is urging them to take up the offer now, to keep themselves and those they care for safe.
The requirements will come into force in the spring, subject to the passage of the regulations through Parliament. There will be a 12-week grace period between the regulations being made and coming into force to allow those who have not yet been vaccinated to have both doses. Enforcement would begin from 1 April, subject to parliamentary approval.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Vaccines save lives and patient safety is paramount. Many of the people being treated in hospitals or cared for at home are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. We have a responsibility to give patients and staff the best possible protection.
“We have consulted closely with the sector and will introduce new regulations to ensure people working in healthcare are vaccinated from next spring.
“I want to thank everyone who works in health and social care for the amazing work they do. If you haven’t come forward for your jab yet, please do so. We are determined to support you in this process.”