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coronavirus injection | Care Home Agency Advice

Care providers cite time, cost and energy of revoking mandatory vaccination

Care leaders have reacted with anger to the Government’s decision to revoke regulations requiring mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of deployment (VCoD).

The decision was announced on March 1 that from March 15, health and care workers no longer need to be vaccinated to work in people-facing roles.

Responding, the National Care Forum said that impact of this policy on the sector has been damaging to finances as well as to the morale of providers, care staff, and people who receive social care. In both consultations ahead of the introduction of VCOD in care from 11 November 2021, respondents made clear they did not support this policy.

“Furthermore, the DHSC’s Impact Statement for Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment in care homes, was roundly criticised during the parliamentary debate on the regulations for not considering the huge practical and logistical issues, highlighting that the policy may result in the loss of 40,000 staff at a cost of £100m.

According to a recent survey of NCF members, implementing VCoD has absorbed huge amounts of time and energy, with thousands of Pounds spent on implementation. Providers feel resentment at the perception that social care is a second class service in comparison to the NHS.

Explaining its decision for care homes in England, the DHSC said that 90 per cent of respondents to a consultation supported revoking the requirement. Most support came from the public; 30 per cent of managers and 22 per cent of organisations providing health and care services opposed revocation.

Key themes from stakeholders who supported revocation include:

  • widespread dissatisfaction with the timing of communication of the intention to revoke the policy
  • recognition of the issues already caused as a result of the implementation of the policy to date and the impact on relations between managers and staff in increasing uptake
  • desire for clarity over the timelines for revocation and the need for certainty for staff who are currently not fully vaccinated
  • calls for clarity on scope and timeframes for future guidance on infection prevention and control measures in health and social care settings, including the government’s announced intention to consult on updating the Code of Practice on the prevention and control of infections (the code applies to all Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered health and social care providers in England and the consultation will look at strengthening its requirements in relation to COVID-19)
  • some stakeholders, in particular those representing care homes, raised concerns over the ongoing impact on workforce capacity of vaccination as a condition of deployment remaining in place
  • some stakeholders also raised concerns in relation to protection of patients and people who receive care or support who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.  This is considered further in the ‘Consideration of potential impacts’ section below

Recognising the effort and engagement that has already been taken by employers and their staff, the Government says that “it is right that government responds to the changing landscape of the pandemic”.

Regulations extending VCoD to healthcare staff were due to come into force on 1 April.   

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