The House of Commons has approved with a significant majority proposed regulations to make vaccination mandatory for all staff – including GPs – visiting care homes, before key documents were drawn up.
The regulation – announced last month (16 June) and due to be enforced from October – will mandate that anyone working in a CQC-registered care home in England must have two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, unless they are medically exempt, the DHSC said.
On Tuesday (13 July), MPs approved the regulations by 319 votes to 246, however the vote was called before the Government had published an impact assessment.
In the consultation outcome document, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it ‘recognised the calls for an Impact Assessment’ and intended to ‘publish this as soon as it is possible to do so’.
This comes after the DHSC confirmed it would be launching a further consultation to extend the regulation to other health care staff, with Covid-19 and flu vaccinations becoming a condition of deployment.
Criticism from Tories and opposition
Speaking in the Commons, Conservative MP William Wragg said: ‘The Government is treating this House with utter contempt. Ninety minutes on a statutory instrument to fundamentally change the balance of human rights in this country is nothing short of a disgrace.’
He added: ‘The fact no impact assessment exists, and I contend that it does not exist – and if that is proven to be the case then I’m afraid the minister will be in a tricky position if she contends it does and it doesn’t – is a disgrace.’
Similarly, Conservative MP Sir Graham Brady outlined concerns that this ‘very serious intervention’ – introducing a legal requirement for medical intervention – is a ‘remarkable change in our law’.
Meanwhile, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan described the need for carers to choose between vaccination and losing their jobs as ‘inhumane’.
Labour MP Rachael Maskell said: ‘We’re having to make a decision in the House this evening on the balance of risk and therefore we haven’t been given the data because the impact assessment hasn’t come forward.’
Earlier this year, after the initial consultation launched in April, the NHS Confederation told Management in Practice that speculation around mandatory vaccines for NHS staff would be ‘unhelpful’ as the focus should instead be placed on increasing vaccine confidence.