The promised consultation on extending mandatory vaccination across all health and care settings has been launched today and closes on 22 October 2021. I would encourage all providers of CQC regulated care to respond to the consultation. Some key aspects of the consultation include:

  • Vaccination against both Covid-19 and flu would be a condition of deployment for anyone undertaking direct treatment or personal care as part of a CQC regulated activity in England. For example, this would cover all the homecare workforce estimated to be at least 713,000 people in England.  
  • With vaccine take-up estimated to be 81% in homecare, a phenomenal 135,000 homecare workers could be at risk of losing their jobs if they refuse vaccination. 
  • The consultation is also considering whether residential and inpatient settings where CQC regulated activities are provided (for example, residential recovery services for drugs and alcohol, hospices, and registered extra care and supported living services) the whole setting should be subject to the requirements so that anyone attending must be vaccinated.
  • For care homes currently implementing the existing regulations, they would also need to mandate flu vaccines.
  • The Government has said they are considering a grace period but have not said how long it would last.  
  • The Government are clearly concerned about the combined impact of Covid-19 and flu on the population during the winter. We consider a 16 week grace period would be the minimum necessary. However, with the consultation not closing until 22 October that will leave very little time for regulations to be implemented with a grace period ahead of the typical flu peak between December and March.
  • The consultation also refers to incorporating requirements relating to booster doses.  My reading of the consultation is that the requirement to submit to boosters would apply to all registered settings, including care homes.

With judicial review challenges already in place relating to the mandatory vaccination regulations for care homes, the Government is showing it is up for a battle in relation to this issue and clearly hopes starting the consultation will itself increase take up. However, the lack of impact assessment of the regulations is frightening. What would be the impact if the homecare workforce lost 135,000 overnight? How many people would be left without safe care? The consequences could be far worse than the harm the regulations seek to prevent. Where is the data relating to transmission rates when full PPE is used? The Government allude to this by stating:

"It is clear that vaccine hesitancy exists as a real concern for some and is more prevalent within certain groups of our society. As such, there is a risk that some health and social care workers may continue to decide not to be vaccinated and therefore no longer meet the requirements to be deployed. A reduction in the number of health and social care workers, could, in turn, put additional pressures on the social and healthcare sectors."

It is imperative that providers of regulated care make very clear the impact the regulations could have on their workforce so I would urge you to respond before the deadline. You can read the consultation here and respond to the consultation here.

In the meantime, if you require legal advice on the impact on your organisation and the steps you may need to take please do get in touch.