New regulations for health and social care settings in England will come into force on 1 April 2022. Those aged over 18 whose roles require face-to-face contact with patients or service users will need to have received two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine (unless medically exempt). The rules apply to volunteers, students, job applicants, workers visiting from non-health care settings and visiting professionals.

The new rules, which were announced on 9 November, will sit alongside the care home regulations which came into force on 11 November 2021. Both sets of regulations seek to ensure that vaccination coverage protects vulnerable people and individual workers in health and social care settings. They will therefore have a significant impact on all health and social care providers, their workers, contractors and suppliers.

It will be the responsibility of the CQC-registered person (either the service provider or registered manager) at your organisation to ensure that you only deploy those who have provided evidence that they have either been vaccinated against COVID-19 or that they are medically exempt. This applies to all roles requiring face to face contact with patients or service users and is regardless of how often the individual works in the health / care setting, how often they may come into contact with patients or service users, or, who employs them.

Under current vaccination guidance, eight weeks are required between the first and second vaccine dose. Therefore, all workers who are not exempt will need to have had their first dose on or before 4 February 2022.

Read the consultation response in full here.

Next steps

We understand that the Government will produce operational guidance to make the implementation easier. However, in the meantime, we recommend that you take immediate action to:

  • Create an action plan
  • Document the vaccination and/or medical exemption status of workers
  • Actively support uptake of vaccination via communication and engagement with workers
  • Identify risks and proactively plan for redeployment processes and any additional recruitment to avoid disruption to the safe delivery of services
  • Manage and support those workers who have decided not to have the vaccine
  • Manage and support medically exempt workers

Mandatory vaccinations for workers in care home: update

The regulations that were made on 22 July 2021 came into force yesterday (11 November 2021). All persons working or deployed in a CQC registered care home (which provides accommodation together with nursing or personal care) must now be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless an exemption applies.

There will be no judicial review of the legality of the regulations.

At a hearing on 2 November 2021, the High Court refused the request for a judicial review of the regulations requiring workers in care homes to be fully vaccinated against COVID. The specific reasons for the refusal have not been shared, but we understand that the applicants have decided not to appeal against this decision. That is the end of the legal challenge and means that the regulations will stand.

How Capsticks can help

Employers affected by the mandatory vaccination requirements will need to take immediate action. Our employment law and HR experts have significant experience of supporting employers on the issues arising out of the introduction of mandatory vaccinations. If you need further guidance on the implications of the regulations or a specific case, please contact Victoria Watson, Alistair Kernohan or Chloe Edwards.