Separate entrances and exits should be used for unvaccinated non-patient facing GP staff, if needed to avoid them crossing paths with patients, an LMC has advised.
It also said practices should not ‘jump the gun’ with redeploying unvaccinated staff but should wait for additional NHS guidance due in the next few days.
It comes as NHS England confirmed in its latest GP bulletin it would be issuing phase two guidance on the implementation of the mandatory vaccination regulations in the coming days. This will include a ‘redeployment framework’ and advice about ‘formal steps’ for staff who are unvaccinated on 1 April 2022.
In its latest weekly update, Cambridgeshire LMC said, pre-1 April: ‘In the meantime, we advise you to be pragmatic – if non-patient facing staff require specific entrances/exits to avoid any patient throughput, then see if these can be facilitated.’
The LMC also recommended using home-working policies in the interim.
It added: ‘The Government is not seeking to make staff redundant – this will be dismissal if it becomes realised.
‘We are pressing for BMA support, and advise practices not to jump the gun but await further information.’
The Government announced in November that Covid-19 vaccination would be a ‘condition of deployment’ for all staff in the health sector from April this year.
Last Thursday (6 January) was the start of the 12-week grace period, to ensure unvaccinated individuals get their first dose by 3 February 2022, so they can receive their second dose by the 1 April 2022 deadline.
The mandate extends to all non-clinical workers in direct contact with patients, meaning GPs will be banned from deploying unvaccinated public-facing staff.
It will be for the CQC to ensure compliance and in the worst-case scenarios, they could withdraw registration for practices with unvaccinated staff – effectively shutting them down.
Some GP leaders have expressed concern that the mandate may hit the GP practice workforce.
NHS England has encouraged GP practices to have ‘one-to-one’ conversations with staff who have refused Covid jabs to identify ‘reasons for vaccine hesitancy’.
Meanwhile, there are ‘no plans’ for Scottish and Welsh Governments to introduce mandatory Covid and flu vaccinations for healthcare staff.
For England, flu vaccination mandates have not been ruled out for future winters.
Northern Ireland is planning a public consultation on making Covid vaccination compulsory for ‘new recruits’, but there is still no date for the consultation.