Quick Fix Clinic: Staff Vaccination Status
On Monday 24 January at 18.00 we discussed staff vaccinations.
This is a confusing topic for most members, given only a handful are CQC registered and therefore have a legal obligation to ensure all staff are vaccinated. Most companies are in the difficult position of wanting to mandate vaccination as is expected by the majority of patients but without the legal support to do so.
Legal change: The Health and Social Care 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2022 (“Regulations”) were made on 6 January 2022. These apply to all providers of “regulated activities” – so any provider of health or social care services, whether in the NHS or in the independent sector.
Change in practice: The Regulations require that all those who will have direct face-to-face patient contact with service users as part of CQC regulated activity are vaccinated against COVID-19 by 1 April 2022, unless exempt. This includes individuals working in non-clinical ancillary roles who enter areas which are utilised for the provision of a CQC-regulated activity as part of their role and who may have social contact with patients, but not directly involved in patient care (e.g. receptionists). There is a 12-week grace period before the enforcement of the mandatory vaccination requirement on 1 April 2022. This is intended to allow staff who have not yet been fully vaccinated to complete the course. Practically, this means that staff must have had their first dose of the vaccine by 3 February 2022, to ensure they can receive a complete course by 31 March 2022. At this stage booster vaccinations are not in scope but we expect there to be a further amendment on this in the future.
Discussion points: Members shared their views, experiences on this topic, which included:
- Some members felt that while they weren’t CQC regulated, that their delivery of services was no different and therefore felt compelled to mandate vaccination as a condition of employment, notwithstanding the risk of legal challenge
- There was a general view that the majority of patients expect staff to be vaccinated in a clinical setting
- We discussed the practical steps of understanding the vaccine status of prospective staff through the recruitment process
- A number of members discussed the challenges of dealing with existing staff who are refusing the vaccine and the challenges both practical and legal with regards terminating employee contracts
- Timescales were discussed, in terms of following a consultation process, initial conversations need to be had this week ahead of the 3rd Feb deadline for the first vaccine
- It was noted that some businesses are advertising the fact that all staff are vaccinated, there were differing views around whether openly divulging the vaccine status of staff was the right thing to do or not.
The recording can be found https://youtu.be/0Ci4mqZVKYg