Ever since the Covid 19 pandemic hit the UK at the start of 2020, a vaccine has been seen as the way out of repeated lockdowns and social distancing. Now we have three vaccines approved, with the first patients receiving doses in December 2020. Plans to vaccinate all people over the age of 50, along with those classed as clinically vulnerable require a huge number of people to administer the vaccines. But this recruitment process hasn’t gone smoothly, with medical staff reporting a huge bureaucratic nightmare in registering as a potential vaccinator.


Who’s Being Recruited?

In the first instance, the NHS has appealed for medical staff who aren’t currently working to come forward and re-register into the profession. Along with doctors and nurses, this includes people who formerly worked in related occupations such as pharmacy or midwifery. These people have the basic medical skills needed to give injections safely, and if they have retired only recently, they may have recently had a DBS check into their criminal records too. However, despite the urgent need to get trained staff into vaccination centres, many are reporting a large administrative burden on applicants.


“Pointless Bureaucracy”

Many retired doctors and other professionals have described the administrative process of registering and competing basic training as a vaccinator as “pointless bureaucracy”. Despite many of them having decades of experience in the NHS, applicants are being asked to complete and pass online training modules. Some of these training modules are undeniably necessary, especially the training around obtaining consent from patients and the protocol to follow if someone has an allergic reaction. But other training modules are more controversial. Many retired doctors have had to submit 20 pieces of paperwork, including passing training on fire drills and terrorist radicalisation. After several articles in the press about the paperwork, the government stepped in with an announcement that several items of training would no longer be required.


NHS Volunteers

Along with the clinical staff who are actually administering the vaccines, the recruitment drive also includes administrative staff, and volunteers to greet patients and point them in the right direction. Volunteers working in the NHS typically also need a DBS check, and this will also be the case for vaccine volunteers. Since the start of the pandemic, the DBS has been prioritising applications from NHS staff and other healthcare workers, and this will continue through the vaccine roll-out.

The Disclosure and Barring Service is offering a high-speed turnaround on interim DBS checks, which look at whether the applicant’s name appears on the list of people legally banned from working with vulnerable groups. If that check comes back clear, the applicant has the green light to start work right away, pending the full check being completed at a later date.

The good news is also that volunteers don’t pay anything to have their DBS check processed, whether they are working for the NHS or any other charitable organisation. Anyone who is interested in helping out with the vaccination roll-out should check their local NHS website for full details.