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Health and social care staff to be vaccinated

From the middle of January, all NHS trusts will be able to provide vaccinations for local health and social care workers.

NHS England says the jab will be offered to all staff across NHS services, including those who work in general practices, pharmacies, dentists and other primary and secondary care settings.

It will also be available to ambulance trusts, volunteers and all independent providers, such as community-based mental health services.

It will be the responsibility of local authorities to ensure that all social care workers are able to receive their jabs and they will similarly be contacted directly.

All social care workers will be eligible for the jab regardless of whether they work in hospitals, people’s homes or another setting, or who employs them.

The vaccination of workers will be prioritised based on local risk assessments, which will consider factors such as face-to-face contact time, underlying health conditions and whether people are from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, all of which are proven risk factors.

Ensuring widespread vaccine coverage among those most at risk in our workforce will be an important factor in reducing the disproportionate impact COVID-19 presents.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Confederation, said: ‘It is right to prioritise frontline health and care staff for COVID-19 vaccinations – irrespective of which part of the health and care sector they work in or whether they are a student or volunteer.

‘Today’s guidance is something our members have been calling for and so it offers very welcome clarity on how staff will be vaccinated.

‘Indeed, there has been a significant increase in staff absences relating to COVID-19, and staff are rightly very concerned about how they could work safely.

‘So it is essential that staff are vaccinated as soon as possible, not just so that they can get back to work, but because it is a basic principle that we should do our utmost to protect the NHS’ best assets: our people.

‘It will be logistically challenging to implement on top of so many existing pressures, and the timescales are ambitious, but we need our staff to be protected from infection and hopefully remain COVID-free.’

NHS England said immunising healthcare workers will both prevent them from becoming ill and colleagues from being required to self-isolate, enhancing the ability of the NHS to provide an excellent service.

Hospital hubs will need to facilitate appointments for outside of peak times and at weekends for those workers who are only available at those hours.

Individual Trusts will make sure they have sufficient vaccinators dependent on the size of their staff cohort and they will be able to draw on the national workforce where necessary.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: ‘Ensuring a safe, quick and efficient rollout of the vaccine is crucial.

‘Everyone working in the NHS, including staff employed by private contractors or on temporary contracts, must be included in the plans.

‘Providing clear, easy-to-understand information about the vaccines will encourage the widest possible take up across the entire workforce.’

NHS England said Local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) will co-ordinate the details for all staff on how and when to get their jab, and local vaccination centres will also be able to deliver jabs at short notice in order to prevent wastage.

Clinics will be scaled up to enable vaccinations to take place seven days a week and health and social care workers will be invited to book appointments.

The NHS will ensure CCGs have a full list of providers, including independent and private services. For example, private sector dentists registered with the CQC, which the NHS has access to.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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