On 6 January 2022, the Government made new legislation, approved by Parliament, which amended the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (“the 2014 Regulations”). This means it is now legislation to be enacted by 1 April 2022.
Those working in general practices and dental practices aged 18 and over, who have direct, face to face contact with service users will be required to evidence that that they have received a complete course of a Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved COVID-19 vaccine, subject to specific exemptions and conditions.
This will include front-line workers, as well as non-clinical workers not directly involved in patient care but who nevertheless may have direct, face to-face contact with patients, such as receptionists and cleaners.
Further information is available in our Frequently Asked Questions.
- 6 January 2022– the 12-week grace period between the regulations being made and coming into force, commences. This period is intended to give providers and staff time to prepare and meet the new regulatory requirements. Communication and engagement with staff, supportive in nature, should have commenced with workers before this date, to respond to vaccine hesitancy and drive vaccination uptake.
- 3 February 2022- the last date for those in scope of the regulations to get their first dose of an authorised vaccine (unless exempt) so they can be fully vaccinated with a complete course of doses of an authorised vaccine by 1 April 2022.
- 31 March 2022– the day by which those in scope will have had to receive their second vaccination dose. In scope workers who believe that they are exempt from having the COVID-19 vaccination must provide evidence of their exemption as soon as possible but at the latest by 31 March 2022.
- 1 April 2022- the regulations take effect.
Guidance for employers
NHS England and NHS Improvement issued Phase 2: VCOD Implementation Guidance for organisations registered with CQC for the purposes of providing health care. This followed from the previous Phase 1 planning and preparation guidance.
The guidance and principles set out can generally be applied to organisations providing NHS-commissioned services, such as primary care services and to the independent sector, including general practice and NHS dental practices.
The approaches to formal processes detailed in this guidance may vary from organisation to organisation, depending on the facts and circumstances in each case, and as such, it is recommended that organisations seek their own legal advice on such matters. However, we encourage all registered persons (registered managers, registered providers) to read the guidance and FAQs to support you with compliance with the regulations.
Organisations should identify the potential for workforce capacity pressures, (alongside existing pressures e.g. due to staff absences), and the potential impact on service provision, and plan mitigating actions to ensure effective arrangements are in place to continue to deliver appropriate care to patients and service users.
Business as usual escalation routes apply for service disruption. Commissioners and systems should be informed of likely or actual service disruptions, which they can escalate to NHS England and NHS Improvement regional teams as needed.
From 21 December, the Calculating Quality Reporting Service (CQRS) included a request for voluntary information on the COVID-19 vaccination status of general practice staff employed or otherwise deployed in general practice. This data will support ongoing planning around capacity and service provision due to new regulations.
Increasing vaccination uptake
NHS England and NHS Improvement has curated resources to aid 1:1 conversations to support staff to take up the COVID-19 vaccine offer. Additionally, there are some nationally provided health and wellbeing resources that may be of support to you.
Resources and support
- Phase 1: Planning and preparation guidance
- Phase 2: VCOD Implementation Guidance
- Frequently Asked Questions
- VCOD workspace on the FutureNHS
- Guidance to support COVID-19 vaccine uptake