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Vaccination Mandate Update- How should your Practice be preparing?

The NHS released more information last week about the “Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment- VCOD”.

Speaking on 9th November, Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that all those who work for an organisation that carries out CQC-regulated activity will be subject to VCOD from 1st April 2022 (subject to the regulations passing in parliament).

At the time of our last update, we stated we were not sure of exactly who would need to be double vaccinated in the practice, as the guidance stated only “patient-facing”. It has since been confirmed, that this will mean all those in practice who will come face to face with patients, including receptionists, secretaries, dispensers, and managers.

The only people who will not need to be vaccinated are those that never come into contact with a patient, who for example, might work within an office in the building who do not have to venture out into areas where patients might be encountered. The advice from the government is that there would be exemptions for staff who are medically exempt from being vaccinated. It is expected that all unvaccinated NHS workers will get both jabs by 1st April next year.

The government had also decided against making the flu vaccine mandatory for NHS staff at this time but would keep this under review. 

NHSE have also provided a provisional date of 6th January 2022 for parliament to pass the regulations, although this is still subject to change. From that date, the 12-week window will start for practices to work with their employees to ensure that, come the start of April, all those working in the practice have been vaccinated or have an exemption.

NHSE has stated that they will provide more information from the 6th January in what they are calling “Phase 2” of the process. This information will contain the procedures practices needed to follow with regards to the employees who do not want to be vaccinated. Similar to Care homes, this is likely to result in the dismissal of any employees that refuse to be vaccinated, cannot be redeployed, and do not have a permanent or temporary exemption.

NHSE are recommending that Practices start talking to their staff members if they haven’t already. Most Practice Managers will know which employees are double vaccinated and which of them may have worries and concerns. It is certainly worth sitting down with employees, having conversations, and trying to establish who is going to be put at risk when the regulations are made law. 

It is critical for Practices to follow the correct procedures when implementing a vaccine policy, not just to safeguard workers and patients, but also to protect them from any legal ramifications in the months ahead. 

For those practices that do have internal offices, it is certainly worth thinking about any positions in the practice that are not patient-facing and whether redeploying any staff might be an option. We are expecting very few practices to have redeployment as an option due to the nature of their business and size of their buildings.

If you would like any support, FPM members can contact our HR Helpline at hrhelp@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk or contact Thornfields for information on our “Handling Difficult Conversations” course to prepare for the months ahead.


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