NHS England announces 'immediate' requirement to vaccinate all healthcare staff against Covid-19

Directive to hospitals includes students and the independent sector

Published: 07 January 2021 Government & NHS

In a letter to all NHS organisations, officials set out 'operational guidance on the immediate requirement to vaccinate frontline health and social care workers ensuring maximum uptake of vaccination and timely, equitable access across staff groups'.

Health and social care staff are among the top two priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The letter from NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani and chief people officer Prerana Issar says: ‘It is now time for us to vaccinate health and care workers, in line with the JCVI’s prioritisation. This is critical to ensure we protect health and care workers, patients and the public at a time when COVID-19 pressures across health and care are intensifying.

'Thank you again for your continued efforts. In providing the COVID-19 vaccine in a fast and equitable way, we aim to protect patients, staff, carers and families and continue to deliver high-quality care in the most demanding circumstances.'

Hospital hubs by mid-January

Around 200 hospital sites are already operating as vaccination hubs, and the letter suggests that by mid-January all NHS Trusts including acute, mental health, community and ambulance trusts 'will be established as “hospital hubs” with a responsibility for COVID-19 vaccine delivery to all individuals within JCVI cohort 2b’ - which includes health and social care staff.

These hospital hubs will be the default provider of vaccinations for all health and social care workers, but the guidance confirms that alternative local arrangements with GP-run or pharmacy vaccination centres can be arranged.

The JCVI recommends that NHS organisations should give priority to frontline staff ‘at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment'.

Who will be eligible?

This includes but is not limited to:

  • staff working on the vaccination programme
  • staff who have frequent face-to-face contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care, mental health, urgent and emergency care and community settings
  • those working in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services
  • laboratory, pathology and mortuary staff
  • those working for a sub-contracted provider of facilities services such as portering or cleaning
  • temporary, locum or ‘bank’ staff, including those working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients
  • frontline social care workers directly working with vulnerable people who need care and support irrespective of where they work (for example in hospital, people’s own homes, day centres, or supported housing); or who they are employed by (for example local government, NHS, independent sector or third sector).

Image: Sebastian Condrea/Moment/via Getty Images