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Sarah Lepak, Head of Policy & Compliance at the British Healthcare Trades Association

Following a five-week consultation launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) about making it mandatory for professionals who visit adult care homes in England to have a COVID-19 vaccine in order to protect residents, the BHTA has said that this decision is “perhaps questionable”.

Engineers, assessors, allied health professionals and specialist nurses are among the professions likely to be affected by a change in policy, which is also looking at whether to make it mandatory for care home providers to only deploy staff who have received the jab.

However, the British Healthcare Trades Association’s (BHTA) head of policy & compliance has said that as the vast majority of care home residents have been vaccinated and take-up by the general public is high, this decision is “perhaps questionable” as it could impact employers and employees in the healthcare sector.

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If adopted for instance, for those employers in the assistive technology sector who cannot send an engineer into a care home due to the employee not being vaccinated, it could lead to redundancies.

The DHSC states that, at this stage, it is keeping the policy under review and considering whether in due course it is necessary to extend it to other parts of the adult social care and health sectors.

Commenting on the consultation, Sarah Lepak, Head of Policy & Compliance at the British Healthcare Trades Association, told AT Today: “This proposal will inevitably provoke a split reaction.

“Whilst everyone should be encouraged to have the vaccine, particularly where they will be dealing with vulnerable people, making it compulsory has ramifications for employers and employees alike.

“Now that the vast majority of care home residents have been vaccinated (and take-up by the general population continues to be high) the need for such a policy is perhaps questionable.

“Currently, visiting professionals have to produce evidence of a negative test or take a test on arrival anyway.  It would make sense for longer term policy on COVID-19 vaccination to align with policies for flu vaccination.”

Staff, providers, stakeholders, residents and their families are being urged to submit their views here with a final decision expected this summer. The deadline for submitting views for this proposal is 11:45pm on 21 May 2021.

The BHTA has warned its members that there may be employment implications if the policy is extended to all professionals visiting care homes. Those of its members who disagree with the stance are being encouraged to get in touch with the association by 17th May at the latest.

The BHTA is one of the oldest healthcare associations in the UK, representing over 400 companies in the healthcare and assistive technology industry. It supports its members to help ensure the best outcomes for the most vulnerable in society.

All BHTA members are committed to adhering to the association’s Code of Practice – the only code in the industry approved by The Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

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