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Nurses who decline COVID-19 vaccination could be redeployed

NHS guidance to trusts says redeployment is an option if risk to member of staff, colleagues or patients is very significant
Picture shows a vial of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and syringe

NHS guidance to trusts says redeployment is an option if risk to member of staff, colleagues or patients is very significant

Staff who decline the offer of a COVID-19 vaccine could be redeployed to a less exposure-prone setting, new guidance suggests.

The NHS England guidance to trusts dated 12 March says employers can consider moving staff who have declined the vaccine to a less exposure-prone setting. It sets out a number of measures to keep non-vaccinated staff safe at work, including appropriate personal protective equipment and testing

NHS guidance to trusts says redeployment is an option if risk to member of staff, colleagues or patients is very significant

Vial of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and syringe
Picture: Alamy

Staff who decline the offer of a COVID-19 vaccine could be redeployed to a ‘less exposure-prone setting’, new guidance suggests.

The NHS England guidance to trusts dated 12 March says employers can consider moving staff who have declined the vaccine to a ‘less exposure-prone setting’. It sets out a number of measures to keep non-vaccinated staff safe at work, including appropriate personal protective equipment and testing the fit if they need to use an FFP3 respirator mask.

Staff should also have awareness of infection control and have had appropriate training, as well as an up-to-date risk assessment to identify their individual risks, it says.

No plans to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine

‘In addition to the above, if the risk to the member of staff, their colleagues or patients is still very significant, they could be moved into a less exposure prone setting as an option,’ says the guidance, first highlighted by Health Service Journal.

‘These sensitive conversations may require input from local trade union representatives and HR,’ the guidance says. But it says there are no plans to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, and that conversations around vaccine hesitancy could be held by a line manager or another ‘person of trust’ such as a vaccinator, trusted peer or chaplain.

RCN professional lead for public health nursing Helen Donovan said redeployment must be used carefully, and that the college would be watching any implementation closely.

‘Employers must demonstrate the rigorous risk assessments they have carried out and the evidence of how a different role would mitigate the risks,’ she said. ‘Redeployment is not a simple one-size-fits-all solution, and employers must examine it with the individual on a factual risk basis.’

RCN says staff must be supported to make their own decision

The RCN ‘actively encourages’ all members to have the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect themselves, their patients, their families and the wider community. But it does not support mandatory vaccination of staff, saying such a policy would not be effective.

Ms Donovan said staff must be supported to make their own decision. ‘No one can be forced to have any medical treatment – this includes vaccines,’ she said.

‘Staff should be offered every opportunity to access vaccination. They also need to be able to make the decision to have the vaccine in a supportive environment with the right information, encouragement and a clear explanation of its benefit and value.’

The latest data indicates that 1,098,253 front-line NHS staff in England, or 94.8%, had their first dose of the vaccine by 7 March.

Find out more

NHS: Guidance to Support COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in Frontline Staff


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