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  • Overview

    The government is seeing to revoke its mandatory Covid vaccination requirements for health and care staff in England. The government has said that it is no longer proportionate to require health and care workers to be vaccinated as a part of a condition for deployment. 

    In November 2021, vaccinations were made mandatory by the government for all staff working in care homes, unless exempt. This policy was due to be expanded in April this year to all patient-facing health and care staff, including home carers and those working in the NHS. Under the mandate, all health and care staff, unless exempt would have had to have received at least 2 vaccines (a complete full dose) of the Covid vaccine otherwise they faced dismissal or deployment where possible. 

    The government has said that the policy was right at the time, based on the scientific evidence available, however the time is right to make reflections on the policy. Now, there is more evidence to support the U-turn, namely the lower severity of the Omicron variant (accounting for over 90% of infections) and the NHS and care worker staff shortages which were only further increasing due to the Covid vaccination mandate. Sajid Javid estimated that an ongoing jab policy could lead to a shortage of 80,000 workers which would cause further and extreme damage to the NHS staff shortage crisis. Similarly, a far greater percentage of the population are vaccinated now than last year which supports the government’s decision to scrap the mandate. Since the policy was first consulted in September 2021, there has been an increase of over 127,000 NHS staff who have been vaccinated and 32,000 social care workers. The U-turn was also made in response to the return to ‘Plan A’ with face coverings no longer being mandatory and the limit lifted on visitors in care homes. 

    There has been much upset from the medical and care industry. Many care home and health staff have already been dismissed from their job due to the mandated policy. The National Care Association has estimated that around 40,000 staff have lost their jobs as a result of the vaccination policy. The Royal College of Nursing have suggested that this figure is between 50,000 and 60,000 for social care workers and around a fifth of the homecare workforce, 75,000 people, were also predicted to quit their jobs rather than having the jab. The issue stems from the confusion and lack of direction that many NHS and care workers have faced. The Royal College of Podiatry’s report found that 90% of their NHS members said that morale is worse now than it was 12 months ago. 

    Whilst the government is seeking to revoke the mandatory vaccine policy, NHS and care staff are still being encouraged to have the full course of the vaccine as a ‘professional duty’. The vaccine mandate changes will be subject to a period of consultation, parliamentary approval and will require a change to the regulations already in existence. 

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