Last reviewed 26 January 2022

The Government has estimated that 3000 general practice staff could be lost due to the Covid-19 vaccine mandate policy.

The Health and Social Care Act (2008) (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No.2) Regulations 2022, made on 6 January 2022, mean that from 1 April 2022 NHS providers must ensure that anyone they employ or engage to carry out direct and face-to-face, Care Quality Commission (CQC)-regulated activities have provided evidence that they have satisfied the Covid-19 vaccination requirements set out in the regulations, or that they are either medically exempt or covered by other exceptions.

The mandate extends to all non-clinical workers in direct contact with patients, meaning GPs will be banned from deploying unvaccinated public-facing staff.

The mandatory vaccination as a condition of deployment (VCOD) policy has been published alongside an impact assessment document from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). This document has calculated that 3.8% of the 89,000 patient-facing GP staff will be unvaccinated when the rules come into force.

The Government estimates that 400 of these GP staff will be exempt, meaning the number of GP staff remaining unvaccinated and not exempt will be 3000, and may have to be dismissed if they cannot be redeployed.

The document has revealed that, in the worst case scenario, 5% of patient-facing GP staff could remain unvaccinated when the rules are due to come into force. This would mean that by 1 April 4400 GP staff would still not be fully vaccinated.

Under the best case scenario, which is the minimum number of staff who will remain unvaccinated when the rules come into force on 1 April, 2400 staff would remain unvaccinated.

The document said more women will be impacted compared to men by the VCOD policy as they have a higher representation in the workforce. Ethnic minority staff and “adherents to certain religions and beliefs” are also likely to be negatively affected by the policy, as “there appears to be more significant levels of vaccine hesitancy in these groups”.

NHS England has encouraged GPs to have “one-to-one” conversations with staff who have refused Covid-19 vaccines to identify any reasons for vaccine hesitancy.

Operational guidance, Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment (VCOD) for Healthcare Workers, Phase 2, has now been issued by NHS England.