A care home operator in the South West fears losing staff due to the government’s policy on mandatory vaccinations for staff working in the care sector, which states that all care home workers must have their first doses of vaccine by September 16 unless they are under 18 or have a medical exemption, after which staff must be fully vaccinated when new regulations come into force on November 11, again unless exempted.
LuxuryCare Group, which has five homes in Dorset says it is “heartbreaking” to consider terminating the employment of workers who have stayed loyal throughout the pandemic.
Before considering making staff redundant government guidance says employers should “explore all options” for redeploying those who refuse the vaccine, but cautions that “the regulations may provide a fair reason for dismissal if you are not vaccinated or medically exempt”.
Speaking with local newspaper The Bournemouth Echo Mandy Kittlety, managing director at Luxurycare Group, said it was “unthinkable” and “heartbreaking” to part with staff she had worked with for a decade.
“It’s a real dilemma for all of us in social care because in our hearts is this desire to make sure that everybody we care for is safe and we do know that being double vaccinated will hopefully reduce the spread of this horrendous virus.”
“But on the other side of things as a company we’re really concerned about our staff team.”
“The issue we’ve got is that if all of our staff are not vaccinated within the given time frame, then we are expected to dismiss them. They will be unemployable within any care home because they have not had their vaccination,” she said.
“We feel that actually through a dynamic risk assessment process we could actually deal with keeping people safe.”
Kevin Gunputh, founder of the company and former chairman of the Dorset Care Homes Association, said he had heard of some care home operators where 30 per cent of staff could be affected.
“Employment rights seem to be a thing of the past,” he added.
The policy is expected to lead to an exodus of staff, with the government’s own best estimate suggesting that around 40,000 care home staff risk being lost as a result of the compulsory vaccinations, adding that it could cost the industry £100m to replace.
A Department of Health and Social Care Spokesperson said: “Vaccines save lives and while staff and residents in care homes have been prioritised and the majority are now vaccinated, we need to do everything we can to keep reducing the risk for the most vulnerable.
“Through our extensive public consultation we have listened to the experiences and concerns of providers and people living and working in care homes to help shape our approach.
“We continue to work with the care sector to drive uptake among adult social care and care home staff to protect vulnerable people.”