The Government has announced a 6-week consultation on the roll out of mandatory Covid-19 vaccines for all NHS and care workers who have direct contact with patients and those receiving care. The consultation will also seek views on whether flu vaccines should be a requirement for health and care workers. This consultation follows the decision to require those entering care homes to be vaccinated against Covid-19, unless exempt. Care homes are required to comply with this new law by 11 November 2021.

The 6-week consultation will likely mean that the seasonal flu season will be upon us before any law will be introduced, begging the question many of those working in the care sector have been asking for months: why not consult with NHS groups at the same time as the care home sector?

With social care being so closely aligned to the NHS, there have been concerns that the spread of Covid-19 would not be effectively reduced for care home residents who may have regular hospital visits whilst NHS staff were not subject to the mandatory vaccine requirement. This also presented additional risk for care home employees.

Aside from the health and safety concerns, there has been a fear that some care home workers who object to the vaccine may leave the private sector and move to the NHS. Rolling out the requirement to the wider health sector will at least address these concerns head on.

For businesses operating in the health and care sector, it is now a good time to review your contracts, policies and offer letters in anticipation that vaccines will be required for frontline workers by the end of the year. Businesses should also be prepared for a rise in grievances or other employee relations issues from workers who object to mandatory vaccines, especially as this requirement is set to be challenged in the courts.  

To discuss the consultation and any concerns you have about mandatory vaccines, please contact Kevin Poulter at kevin.poulter@freeths.co.uk