Government adviser Chris Whitty has said that doctors and care workers have a “professional responsibility” to get vaccinated against Covid-19, amid alarming evidence that “barely half” of London care homes staff have had taken up the vaccination.
He said: “It is the professional responsibility for doctors to do things which help protect their patients. And I expect that to be a professional responsibility for all other health and social care staff as well.”
Statistics also show 74 per cent of care home staff in the south-east and south-west have been given a vaccine, 73 per cent in north-west, north-east and Yorkshire, and 72 per cent in the Midlands.
In a related development, Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised the prospect of vaccinations being a condition of employment in the residential and nursing sector.
He said “I know that some of the very high quality care home groups are now looking at what they can do to make sure that their staff are indeed vaccinated,” he told the press conference.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also come out in favour of vaccination of care staff, saying that they could require proof of vaccination to continue working in the sector. He acknowledged vaccination could become compulsory, saying: “We’re not at that point yet. And I think it’s important that we do we take all of the points of view into consideration.”
The Health Secretary’s comments came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an inquiry into the possibility of ‘Covid status certificates’, said some home owners were urging the government to act.
The Prime Minister announced that a review will be carried out to assess whether certificates could allow restrictions to be lifted more safely and is expected to report before June. Acknowledging potential objections, the Prime Minister said the review would be, “mindful of the many concerns surrounding exclusion, discrimination and privacy”.
Labour’s shadow social care minister Liz Kendall responded by calling for action by ministers, saying: “Ministers promised that all staff working in elderly care homes would be vaccinated by the end of January but the latest data from mid-February shows worryingly low rates of uptake, especially in London where barely half of care home workers have been vaccinated,” she said.
“The government must put in place a strategy to tackle misinformation about the vaccine and encourage far greater uptake amongst all frontline care workers working closely with care providers and trade unions. After so many deaths in our care homes this is a matter of the utmost urgency.”