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NMC: Covid vaccine refusal ‘not basis’ for Fitness to Practise referral

NMC: Covid vaccine refusal ‘not basis’ for Fitness to Practise referral

Refusing to be vaccinated against Covid is not considered a basis for a Fitness to Practise referral, the NMC has advised.

In a statement released today, NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said healthcare professionals concerned about vaccination should seek advice and support from their GP, occupational health team, employer or trade union, while employers should also work collaboratively with them.

However, although the NMC ‘strongly’ encourages staff to be vaccinated, it does not ‘consider that solely turning down Covid-19 vaccinations is a basis for a Fitness to Practise referral,’ she added.

The NMC Code and standards ‘have always made clear that professionals have a responsibility to maintain their own level of health’, while also practising ‘in line with best available evidence, take appropriate steps to reduce risks and prioritise the safety of people in their care,’ she said.

Ms Sutcliffe continued: ‘Since the Covid-19 vaccine rollout started, the NMC has strongly encouraged anyone eligible – including all professionals on our register – to be fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.’

This comes as England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May and chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told unvaccinated NHS staff it is there ‘professional duty’ to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

In a letter sent to staff on 7 February, they wrote: ‘Getting vaccinated against diseases which can be passed person-to-person in healthcare settings is part of that responsibility. The great majority of healthcare workers have already done so. We hope those of you who have not will consider doing so now.’

Last week, the Government revealed it was scrapping plans to make Covid-19 vaccination a condition of deployment for patient-facing healthcare staff in England by April.

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