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NHS England cuts bureaucracy for retired staff returning to help with Covid vaccinations

by Awil Mohamoud
13 January 2021

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Retired medics returning to help with Covid vaccinations now have fewer forms to complete, NHS England has confirmed, following widespread calls to cut ‘bureaucratic barriers’.

Returning medics will now be asked to meet only 13 requirements, after six were removed from the process.

Those cut include proof of training in conflict resolution, equality and diversity, fire safety and preventing radicalisation, according to NHS England.  

Those returning will still be asked to complete modules on managing anaphylaxis, vaccine administration and storage and data security, among others.  

Responding to a question from Liam Fox, MP and non-practising doctor, in a Commons debate last week (6 January) about the ‘bureaucracy’ facing returning medics, Boris Johnson, prime minister said: ‘I am assured by my right hon. friend, the Health Secretary, that all such obstacles and all such pointless pettifoggery has been removed.’ 

‘We need all hands on deck’

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, previously called for a cut in red-tape, and told Management in Practice: ‘With infections and hospitalisations now at record levels, and lives and livelihoods at risk, we cannot afford any unnecessary delays in getting people vaccinated.

‘While it’s essential that proper checks are in place, the current process for approving retired GPs who want to help out is too cumbersome and must be streamlined.’

Professor Martin Marshall, RCGP chair, said in a statement  on 6 January that there was  ‘an army of retired medics’ waiting to help [with Covid vaccinations], but we needed to ‘allow them to do so’ and ‘keep bureaucratic barriers to this to the bare minimum’.

He added: ‘Requiring people to submit more than 20 pieces of documentation, some of which have low relevance to the task they will be doing, and some of which some retired medics and returners to the profession won’t even have, is a deterrent for them getting involved at a time when we need all hands on deck.’

Guidance on the Public Health England (PHE) website – published on 8 December – states that registered healthcare practitioners returning to vaccination after a prolonged period will require specific training about the Covid-19 vaccine, and recommended extra training on the administration, storage and legal aspects of the vaccination programme.

Modules retired medics must do (with PHE, MHRA and DHSC):

Covid-19 knowledge for vaccinators

Covid mRNA Vaccine / AZ Vaccine

Managing anaphylaxis 

Data security

Vaccine admin

Vaccine storage 

Experience based decision (self-certification sign off on application)

Resuscitation level 2 (prior certification)

Health and safety (prior experience)

Infection prevention and control (revise/F2F)

Safeguarding adults – level 1, if required


Passport or proof of right to work


Verification of professional registration online

Modules removed

Conflict resolution

Moving and handling

Equality and diversity 

Fire safety

Preventing radicalisation 

Safeguarding children – level 1