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Health and Social Care Workers Compulsory Vaccinations

January 2022

On 31 January 2022, the Government announced a consultation on removing COVID vaccination as a condition of deployment for health and social care workers. Subject to this consultation, the Government will revoke the regulation requiring compulsory COVID vaccinations in health and social care settings.

The Government had set a deadline of 1 April 2022 for frontline NHS and social care staff to have been vaccinated twice. Essentially, this meant that unvaccinated workers would need to receive their first COVID jab or produce a valid exemption by Thursday 3 February. This is no longer the case.

The scrapping of mandatory vaccinations is subject to a period of consultation and parliamentary approval. However, given that the Labour Party supports the move, a change in the regulations is likely to be a formality.

Health and social care leaders already facing staff shortages following Brexit had been pushing for a change in policy, as had the unions. However, this last minute change of direction will be challenging for employers. In a joint statement, the chief executives of NHS Confederation and NHS Providers, Matthew Taylor and Chris Hopson, said that their members would have preferred to have longer to implement the policy:

"NHS leaders are frustrated to have such a significant change in policy at the 11th hour given all the hard and complex work that has gone into meeting the deadline set by the Government. They recognise the reasons the Government has given for the changes - the risk to services and the different risk from Omicron compared to previous variants.

But there will be concern at what this means for wider messaging about the importance of vaccination for the population as a whole. We must also be mindful of the frustration this late change will have caused for some staff and the Government must ensure clear guidance is quickly made available to support managers to implement this change in approach."

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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