REC lobbying wins injections for frontline agency staff

Frontline agency staff must be included in vaccination plans of NHS Trusts in England from Monday, following instructions from NHS England.

The move follows successful lobbying by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).

The REC is now urging the minister for Covid vaccine deployment Nadhim Zahawi MP to think more broadly about who should be prioritised for the vaccine. “This includes key workers in logistics, education and non-clinical roles in the NHS where workers are at an increased risk of catching and spreading the virus,” an REC statement said.

In December, the REC reported that members were concerned about agency workers being excluded from lists to receive the vaccine. “We wrote to the minister for care before Christmas to raise concerns that agency staff were not being prioritised with direct employees to receive the Covid-19 vaccination,” Kate Shoesmith, the REC’s deputy CEO, said in comments to recruiter.co.uk. 

“Today [7 January 2021] we are delighted to report that as of Monday [11 January] all health and social care staff, regardless of the type of contract they’re on, will be able to get the vaccine at their local vaccine hub.

“This is a big challenge,” Shoesmith went on to say. “Trusts must make sure all staff receive a vaccine, with special attention to those working in a community setting.”

Shoesmith sent a letter yesterday [7 January] to Zahawi, to raise concerns about a need for broader consideration of workers also requiring the vaccine. “We’ve also… been talking to stakeholders to ensure that all agency workers in key sectors are treated equally in the vaccine programme. This is in the interests of the people they serve and care for, the colleagues they work with, and entirely necessary given they are putting their own health at risk to serve the nation during the pandemic. 

“We are in another worrying phase of the pandemic, and temporary staff are crucial in helping the NHS, logistics, education and other services cope. These individuals deserve equal protection via the vaccine.”

The lists of those health and social care workers now prioritised for vaccinations include bullet points for “temporary, locum or ‘bank’ staff, including those working in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers with patients” and “frontline social care workers directly working with vulnerable people who need care and support irrespective of where they work… or who they are employed by, for example, local government, NHS, independent sector or third sector”. 

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