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Covid 19 Vaccination and the Vaccine Programme

Supporting the vaccination programme

Since the beginning of the pandemic healthcare learners across England have made a significant contribution to the national response at time of unprecedented need.

Read below a letter from Health Education England's senior leaders in which the students across England are asked to consider registering with the Bank and taking up paid opportunities in support of the vaccination programme.

Introduction of Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment for NHS workers in England

See below details regarding the expected introduction of Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment for NHS workers in England. The Department of Health and Social Care in England has recently announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, all NHS staff will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 if they wish to be deployed in roles that involve face to face contact with service users. If approved these rules will come into effect on 1 April 2022. At present (December 2021), this requirement only applies to England.

Further detail is available on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website.

Since the beginning of the pandemic healthcare students across England have made a significant contribution to the national response at time of unprecedented need. Thank you all for your extraordinary hard work, dedication, skills and commitment and for your continued efforts in the weeks and months ahead.

You will have heard the recent news coverage of the identification of the Omicron variant and the expansion of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. All adults will now be offered a booster dose of the vaccine by the end of January with children aged 12 – 15 being offered a second dose. This will require us to expand our vaccination teams to support delivery.

We know that many of you are already working on the Bank, with your local NHS organisation’s Staff Bank, but for those of you who have not already done so, we are asking you to consider registering with the Bank and take up paid opportunities in support of this vaccination programme. This does not provide a guarantee of work but does allow NHS employers the opportunity to offer you employment as and when the need arises in your local area. The opportunities which are available will vary between organisations, depending on their current and future requirements.

Registering with the Bank may provide you with opportunities to supplement your income during your studies, while giving you valuable experience and understanding of working in a healthcare environment which could enhance your studies. However, it is important that this opportunity does not impact detrimentally upon your studies, or on your other personal circumstances and therefore please consider taking up this option if you feel you are able to undertake paid work in addition to completing your studies. Your ability to take this opportunity may also depend on the varying demands of your programme, and you should consider carefully what those are, or are likely to be, before pursuing this opportunity.

We are immensely grateful for the contribution all students have made through the pandemic and to all who take up this employment opportunity to support the vaccination programme at this critical time, but please understand that this is completely optional. It is not part of the requirements of your studies and cannot be counted towards any practice hours that you are required to undertake for completion of your qualification. As a student you will be expected to continue to complete your education programme, including attending clinical or practice placements and other practice-based learning opportunities.

With that in mind, it is your responsibility to ensure that any employment you decide to undertake:

does not affect your studies, ensuring your progress on the course towards graduation;

is aligned to the employment guidance of your university (there may be a maximum number of hours you can work); and

should not be in an area (for example ward or clinic) in which you are currently undertaking a placement.

Be assured that when you are in the health service, whether on a student placement, or working on the Bank, you will have access to the same resources as staff, including PPE and access to vaccinations (as required) and testing.

If you have any concerns about potentially working in support of the vaccination programme, please contact your university personal tutor, who can discuss these with you.

We would like again to express our gratitude to all of you who feel able to take up this opportunity, and wish all of you, no matter your decision, well in your ongoing studies. If you are interested in taking up this opportunity the contacts can be found here

If you require an accessible version of Lead Employers Contact Info for PCNs please email nationalnursingteam@hee.nhs.uk

Yours sincerely,

Professor Mark Radford, PhD, RN
Chief Nurse, HEE
& Deputy Chief Nursing Officer (England)

Ruth May
Chief Nursing Officer, England

Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE
Chief Midwifery Officer
National Maternity Safety Champion
NHS England and NHS Improvement

Professor Dame Sue Hill DBE
Chief Scientific Officer for England

Suzanne Rastrick OBE
Chief Allied Health Professions Officer (England)

Professor Wendy Reid
Executive Director of Education & Quality, National Medical Director,
Health Education England

The Health and Social Care Secretary for England has stated that apart from a very small number of workers with valid medical exemptions, “All those working in the NHS and social care will have to be vaccinated” by 1st April 2022. The reason for this is clearly stated as to “avoid preventable harm and protect patients in the NHS, protect colleagues in the NHS, and protect the NHS itself.” Currently over 93% of NHS trust staff have already had their first dose and 90% have received a second dose.

Doctors in Training are employed by the NHS and are therefore covered by any regulation that applies to NHS staff. This statement therefore requires all doctors currently in training in England to ensure that they get themselves fully vaccinated against COVID 19 by 1st April 2022 to allow them to continue to work and train in the NHS, unless exempt or not in scope of the legislation (i.e. no requirement for patient interaction).

The DHSC have subsequently stated that all staff undertaking CQC regulated activities in England must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no later than 1 April 2022 to protect patients. Therefore there will now be a requirement for anyone to be fully vaccinated, with a vaccine that is licenced in the United Kingdom as a requirement for starting, or remaining in, an English training programme, unless exempt or not in scope of the legislation.

It is acknowledged that the guidance issued by the DHSC may change in the future, and therefore the guidance notes written below will require regular review and update to reflect any changes made.

If you have any questions relating to the safety of the COVID 19 vaccine e.g. you have a potential contraindication to the vaccine, then please speak to your GP, medical team, or occupational health department as soon as possible to allow you time to fully consider the information, and take appropriate action prior to the deadline. The education team cannot advise you on vaccination safety or your decision whether to have the vaccination or not.

The decision in relation to clinical activities and your vaccination status will remain between the doctor in training and the relevant employing authority. Doctors in training should be aware of their vaccination status and the impact this will have on their progression.

If following consultation with GP, medical team, or occupational health services there is likely to be on going issues with your vaccination status due to lack of valid exemption, you should arrange a one to one meeting as soon as possible with your educational supervisor or programme lead to discuss, the potential impact on your training, future options, and support that can be offered. This conversation should include: -

Likely time course that vaccination will be an issue and whether a limited period out of programme can be used to allow resolution e.g. reflection on any decision to refuse vaccine.

Is it possible to cover the required curriculum and achieve completion of training without the need for further patient contact? This may be possible for doctors in the final stages of training who have completed all clinical capabilities / competencies requiring patient contact.

There may be some doctors in training who despite discussions and reflection decide not to be vaccinated for a reason other than an appropriately verified medical exemption. It is acknowledged that if their training requires patient facing activities to be undertaken to meet curriculum requirements, then they will likely not be able to satisfactorily complete training and therefore will exit their training programme. For these individuals further discussion will be needed to establish what educational and career support can be offered to aid decisions around future career direction.

For a small number of doctors in training who have a valid medical exemption, it is recognised you may feel that you are in a vulnerable situation in the clinical setting. You will need to work closely with your employer and their occupational health department to ensure appropriate risk assessments and support requirements have been considered.  You may also have concerns on the potential impact to your training and medical career if you are unable to work in particular clinical environments due to your personal risk and you should discuss this with your educational supervisor and TPD, who will be able to signpost you to additional sources of advice if appropriate.

Further advice and support may be accessed through the local HEE Professional Support and Wellbeing services.

If you have not yet received your first dose of COVID 19 vaccine, it is currently recommended that you should wait 8 weeks between the two initial required doses to optimise the effect of the vaccine. This means you should plan to have your first vaccination by 3 February 2022.

For further information of you can access the COVID 19 Vaccination advice page or NHSE guidance.

 

December 2021
HEE Postgraduate Deans

Introduction of Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment for NHS workers in England

The Department of Health and Social Care in England has recently announced that all NHS staff will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 if they wish to be deployed in roles that involve face to face contact with service users. These rules will come into effect, subject to Parliamentary approval on 1 April 2022. At present (December 2021), this requirement only applies to England.

What does this mean for employability programmes, work experience, Prince’s Trust, Traineeships, Volunteering, T-levels, Internships, Apprenticeships and other pipeline activity

HEE suggest that, due to each NHS employer having their own policy and guidance as determined by their occupational health team for student placement, that this guidance and processes should be replicated and adhered to for those on employability programmes and other pre employment pipeline activity, to ensure a fair, transparent, and a consistent approach.

Where an applicant or existing participant decides that they still do not wish to be vaccinated against Covid-19, they will not be able to undertake pre-employment activities including work experience opportunities for those 18 years of age and over, that come into face-to-face contact with service users in any workplace setting or where this poses a potential risk.

It should be made clear to the applicant and participant that where this is a risk of coming into face-to-face contact with service users, the decision to withdraw opportunities for those that have not been vaccinated or are exempt, has been made because it is not possible to for them to undertake activities in a service user setting, and that, access to these opportunities is reliant on participants being vaccinated. Non-vaccinated participants pose a risk to patients, as well as to themselves.

For transparency and awareness raising, HEE advises that all NHS employers provide a statement to this effect on their respective websites and suggest communications go out to local schools, colleges, Department for Work and Pensions and other partners informing them of the mandate and related policy/guidance being implemented. Please also detail any support being provided to assist vaccinations for example, is the local trust providing Hepatitis B vaccinations.