Regulations making vaccines a condition of deployment for NHS staff set to be revoked

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Former Miss GB and television host Leilani Downing with football pundit and former professional player Matt Le Tissier at a Freedom Rally in London. Photo credit: Leilani Dowding

Mandatory vaccines as a condition of deployment for health and social care staff are set to be revoked, subject to public consultation and parliamentary approval, the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has announced today (31st January 2022).

The change of approach reflects Downing Street’s increasing focus on how the UK must “learn to live with Covid” as the surge of omicron cases fades.

The change of policy comes after concerns that 77,000 healthcare workers would be forced out of their jobs because they had declined to take two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Last November when the legal requirement for care home staff to be fully vaccinated came into effect an estimated 40,000 people lost their jobs over the policy.

Once the legal requirement on deployment is revoked, they are expected to be able to return to work in the sector.

The news of the consultation has been welcomed by many NHS staff, care workers and groups such as NHS100K who have been campaigning against the mandatory Covid-19 inoculations.

Former Miss GB and television personality Leilani Dowding who has been been a strong proponent and spokesperson for the movement said:

“This is such a great decision for England to lead the way in bodily autonomy and free choice. Huge thanks to those who campaigned tirelessly.

“The Together Declaration and NHS100k groups have campaigned non-stop and tirelessly the last few months. I’ve never been prouder to be English.”

The government say it has been clear that it keeps all COVID-19 measures under review.

A statement on the government website says:

“When vaccination as a condition of deployment was introduced Delta was the dominant variant representing 99% of cases. Omicron has now replaced Delta as the dominant variant at 96% of cases.

“Two vaccine doses against Omicron also become less effective over time, which is why the Get Boosted Now campaign was launched in December. The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows boosters are around 90% effective in preventing hospitalisation from Omicron soon after they are administered.

“Over 31 million boosters in England alone, and over 37 million in the UK, have now been administered providing a good level of protection across the country. This, coupled with the lower levels of hospitalisation and mortality, suggests the population as a whole is now better protected, with the latest evidence suggesting that the risk of presentation to emergency care or hospital admission is approximately half of that for Delta.

“As a result, the government has re-examined the policy as it considers how best to achieve public health and safety with the minimum number of restrictions or requirements on people’s lives. The balance of opportunities and risks of the policy have now changed with the dominance of Omicron. The booster rollout has been successful, and workforce challenges remain.”

The government add that while the legal requirement on deployment is set to be revoked, those working in health and social care “still have a professional duty to get vaccinated and Get Boosted Now.”

The government say they will work closely with Royal Colleges and professional regulators to strengthen guidance, and consult on updates to the Department of Health and Social Care’s Code of Practice for regulated providers to strengthen the requirements in relation to COVID-19, which applies to all CQC registered providers of all health and social care in England.

Since the consultation on health and wider social care staff was announced in September more than 127,000 NHS staff came forward for a vaccine and 95% have now had at least one dose.

After the consultation on vaccines as a condition of deployment was launched and regulations laid, uptake among care home staff rose from 77% to 94.5%, which the government say has helped to build a wall of protection.

The change in policy will be subject to a period of consultation, parliamentary approval and require a change to the regulations already laid.

Click here for a transcript of the Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s statement on vaccines as a condition of deployment.

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