The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has provided further updates in responses to the queries raised on Covid-19 guidance for England
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are the independent experts who advise Government on which vaccine/s the United Kingdom should use and provide advice on prioritisation at a population level. The JCVI have advised that the first priorities for any COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of COVID-19 mortality and the protection of health and social care staff and systems.
In line with the recommendations from the JCVI, the vaccine will be initially rolled out to priority groups, including frontline health and social care workers. This includes all staff who have frequent face-to-face clinical contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care/community settings. It should also include those working in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services. As such, registered psychotherapists and other accredited practitioners not employed by the NHS would still receive priority access to the vaccine.
In terms of being identified – Local vaccination providers, including hospital trusts and primary care networks are playing a significant role in coordinating with the health and social care system and continue to work with employers of eligible staff to arrange vaccinations at the appropriate time. Nationally, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and Improvement are also working with staff groups and representative bodies to ensure that both employers and staff receive accurate information about both the delivery mechanisms, and the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
Exemptions from business closures
We had sought clarity on how ARs should interpret the exemptions regarding working in homes, and specifically for those providing mental services. The DHSC has not given any further specific advice on this but has directed us to the National Lockdown guidance – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home, which includes the line that: ‘Medical or health services, including services relating to mental health, are permitted to continue under the current national lockdown’.
The Professional Standards Authority has asked if there is further clarification on how Accredited Registers and/or practitioners will be contacted, and if there are plans to provide lateral flow testing (in response to further questions).