The Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) is urging the government to reverse its decision to close the National Booking Service for all non-NHS health and social care staff who haven’t had their COVID-19 vaccinations.
The decision was made on April 1, immediately prior to the four-day bank holiday, with no formal government announcement.
RCOT said the result of this sudden change in provision is that occupational therapists who are not employed by an NHS organisation, as well as those in independent practice and students on placement in diverse settings, will not be able to organise an appointment for their vaccine through the booking system.
Karin Bishop, director of Operations at the RCOT, said: “The provision of this service is essential in ensuring that the existing Government commitment to vaccinating all health and social care workers is honoured. Under the published JCVI tiering, all health and care staff, as well as all students on placement in settings outside of the NHS, are classed as Tier Two vaccine recipients, regardless of the sector in which they work.
“The implementation of the centralised national booking system significantly improved access to vaccinations for those working in non-NHS settings, such as in independent care homes, domiciliary care services, hospices and occupational health services, as well as for self-employed independent healthcare practitioners.
“The abrupt closure of this route adds a further barrier to vaccination for many who have direct service user contact on a daily basis. The system must be reinstated.”
RCOT, alongside twenty-two other professional bodies, have written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, calling for the reinstatement of the booking system “as soon as is practical”.