• All English trusts to become hospital hubs by 11 January
  • Organisations will become “default” provider of covid vaccine for staff
  • NHSE wants “significant progress” on vaccinating staff by first week of February

All English trusts will be established as vaccine ‘hospital hubs’ by next Monday and will be responsible for vaccinating frontline health and social care staff against coronavirus.

A letter to local NHS leaders, sent by NHS England and NHS Improvement today, said trusts would become the “default” provider of covid vaccinations for all healthcare and social care workers by 11 January, with “significant progress” expected by the first week of February. This includes mental health, community and ambulance trusts, as well as acute providers.

Earlier this week, prime minister Boris Johnson said the NHS will offer the first dose of covid vaccine to top four priority groups within six weeks. Frontline health and social care staff are in the second priority group, after care home residents and their carers. 

In line with the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation’s guidance, the letter recommended trusts should prioritise those frontline staff “at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment”. The letter said this includes, but is not limited to:

  • Staff working on the vaccination programme;
  • Staff who have frequent face-to-face contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care, mental health, urgent and emergency care and community settings;
  • Those working in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services;
  • Laboratory, pathology and mortuary staff;
  • Those working for a sub-contracted provider of facilities services such as portering or cleaning;
  • Temporary, locum or ‘bank’ staff, including those working in the covid vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients; and
  • Frontline social care workers directly working with vulnerable people who need care and support irrespective of where they work (for example in hospital, people’s own homes, day centres, or supported housing); or who they are employed by (for example local government, NHS, independent sector or third sector).

Alongside “taking immediate action” to offer the vaccine to directly employed staff, the letter instructed trusts to work with local authorities to deliver the vaccine to frontline social workers and with clinical commissioning groups and local systems to cover those staff working in primary care and for independent practitioners and independent providers.

The letter — which was signed by NHSE/I’s chief commercial officer and senior responsible officer for vaccine deployment Emily Lawson, NHSE/I’s medical director for primary care Nikita Kanani and NHSE/I’s chief people officer Prerana Issar — said: “Thank you to those of you who have already made significant progress to commence the covid vaccination programme and vaccinate patients. It is now time for us to vaccinate health and care workers, in line with the [JCVI]’s prioritisation.

“This is critical to ensure we protect health and care workers, patients and the public at a time when covid-19 pressures across health and care are intensifying…

“Hospital hubs will need to liaise with partner organisations in order to provide optimal coverage and by organising clinics at times which are accessible to all health and social care workers.

“It is expected that trusts will complete covid-19 vaccination of all frontline health and social care workers as quickly as possible. Trusts will need to focus on achieving maximum uptake of the vaccine; with the expectation to have made significant progress by the first week of February, and to provide vaccinations seven days a week.”

As of 3 January, just under 1.1 million people had been given at least their first dose of the covid vaccine.