It will become mandatory for pharmacy staff working in GP surgeries and hospitals to be double vaccinated against coronavirus, health secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed.
From next spring, all frontline NHS health and social care workers working in CQC-regulated environments will need to provide evidence that they have been fully vaccinated in order to work, Mr Javid announced yesterday.
He said the new measures – which do not apply to people working in community pharmacies – seek to protect vulnerable patients such as elderly and disabled individuals. While the policy does not apply to Covid boosters or flu vaccination this is being kept under review.
Almost 90 per cent of NHS staff are already double jabbed, his department said yesterday. Rules requiring care home staff to be fully vaccinated come into effect tomorrow.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has consistently argued against compulsory vaccination, warning that it could undermine patient access to healthcare workers and may potentially lead to discrimination.
Commenting on the announcement yesterday, RPS England board chair Thorrun Govind said: “Other vaccinations that healthcare staff are required to have are not mandated in law, but part of occupational health or health and safety requirements.
“We believe that COVID-19 vaccination should be treated in the same way and offered as part of working for the NHS, with supportive engagement and education on why this is important. The approach taken to date means that over 92 per cent of NHS staff have now received their first Covid vaccine, and 90 per cent have received their second vaccine.
“The ethical implications of this regulation will need consideration, such as the rights of individuals to decide and consent as to what treatment they have.
“It also has implications for those delivering the vaccinations and puts them in a difficult position, as consent is a fundamental principle of good healthcare and professional practice.”
She welcomed the Government’s decision to carry out an equality impact assessment of the new policy.
GPhC chief Duncan Rudkin commented: “We strongly urge pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to get Covid-19 and flu vaccinations at the earliest opportunity unless they are medically exempt, and ask them to encourage other members of their team to get vaccinated as well.
“As the secretary of state’s announcement relates to the deployment of NHS staff, it will be for NHS employers to lead on implementing this policy.
“We recommend that any pharmacy professionals in England who work in settings regulated by the CQC, and who have questions or concerns about these requirements, should speak to their employer in the first instance.”