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.
2 February 2022 letter sent to:
• Vice-Chancellors and CEOs of Education Providers
• Pro-Vice Chancellors of Health and Medicine
• Deans of Health and Medicine
• Regional Directors, Health Education England
• Council of Deans of Health
• Medical Schools Council
• Pharmacy Schools Council
• Dental Schools Council
• Universities UK
• University Alliance
• Million Plus
Following the announcement from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care regarding the reconsideration of legislation mandating COVID vaccinations for all those in patient-facing roles for CQC registered services, we ask for your continuing support.
Health Education England is aware of the exceptional efforts education providers have made in supporting the vaccination effort, not only for healthcare students but with the entire student population. Across the NHS we are clear that vaccinations are the best way to protect people from the virus. Our healthcare students, as future professionals, have a responsibility to protect patients, users of service, colleagues, their family, and themselves by getting vaccinated.
The efforts taken in supporting students to ensure vaccination as per the original timelines for implementation of the regulation is appreciated. Whilst these timelines are now paused, we ask that you continue efforts to ensure our healthcare students are fully vaccinated against the virus at the earliest opportunity.
Previous guidance from the NHS regarding deployment of NHS staff from 1 April 2022 has now been paused, as explained in a letter issued from the NHS. This letter equally applies to those healthcare students who work for the NHS outside of their studies, given their employment status. We also suggest that where you may have been looking to navigate students onto other programmes, that this is paused.
In addition, for those healthcare students not employed by the NHS, Health Education England is continuing to work closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement to ensure that as the consultation outcomes are published, and the other steps announced by the Secretary of State are implemented, the implications for students and clinical placements are made clear. Any changes that the Department of Health and Social Care announces following this new consultation are still likely to impact on clinical placements for our healthcare students. Therefore, Health Education England will continue our communications with you so that appropriate plans can be developed collectively and implemented accordingly.
As you will be aware Health Education England has informed you of a data collection (excluding medicine and dentistry) commencing Friday 4 February 2022 to understand the current vaccination status of healthcare students. This collection will continue as planned, and we appreciate your continuing support with this.
Thank you for the adaptability and commitment colleagues across the education sector have shown throughout the pandemic. As more information becomes available, we will continue to engage with you in supporting our future health and care workforce.
Dr Navina Evans CBE
Chief Executive Officer, Health Education England
Professor Mark Radford CBE
Chief Nurse, Health Education England
Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, England
Professor Wendy Reid
Director of Education & Quality, Medical Director, Health Education England
Professor Beverley Harden
Allied Health Professions Lead, Health Education England
Deputy Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, England
Professor Berne Ferry
Head of the National School of Healthcare Science, Health Education England
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Mark Radford, PhD, RN
Chief Nurse, HEE
& Deputy Chief Nursing Officer (England)
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 now confirmed that subject to consultation the government will revoke the regulations which make vaccination a condition of deployment in the NHS. In his speech to parliament, he made it clear that whilst this is subject to consultation (because this is a statutory requirement) that the government has already made its decision in relation to this. A two-week consultation is now set to take place, and in the meantime, there will be no further enforcement of the regulations. After this two-week period, it is expected that the regulations will be repealed.
Doctors in Training are employed by the NHS and are therefore covered by any regulation that applies to NHS staff. The statement to Parliament on 31 January 2022 supersedes previous statements which required that 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 previous requirement 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 will not be enforced.
NHS staff in patient facing roles will not be expected to comply with the previous deadlines to be fully vaccinated when they present for work on 1 April 2022, which meant that to meet the 8-week interval between doses, the deadline for first dose is 3 February 2022.
Whilst the mandatory vaccination requirement has been lifted; it is still strongly recommended that NHS Staff in patient facing roles should be fully vaccinated.
It is appreciated that there are some staff that have outstanding concerns about the vaccination process and the advice for support and appropriate guidance is reiterated in this update.
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. The education team cannot advise you on vaccination safety or your decision whether to have the vaccination or not.
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.
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 be able to continue in your clinical environment but 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.
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.