Government Urged Again to Rethink Mandatory Vaccine Policy

The government has been urged to rethink its mandatory vaccine policy due to take effect in two days’ time (November 11), which will mean that all care home staff have to be double vaccinated against Covid-19 or forced to give up their job.

Care staff across England were told to have their first vaccination by September 16 to meet the November 11 cut-off, however, over 10% of care home staff, 63,000, were yet to be fully vaccinated against Covid, with almost 13,000 workers having left the sector since the mandatory vaccine rules were announced.

Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, said the policy unfairly singled out care workers while others working with those vulnerable to covid-19, such as NHS staff, did not have the same mandate.

Speaking in the Express newspaper he said the “no jab, no job” policy would intensify “a multitude of workforce pressures” and could be the straw that “breaks the camel’s back” for many homes which will be forced to close, reduce capacity or cut dangerous corners putting lives at risk.

Professor Green urged the government to “listen to the sector” to stop the disruption to services as the deadline loomed: “It is ridiculous of the government to mandate vaccination for residential and nursing care staff but not those working elsewhere in the NHS whose deadline for vaccination is April.

“Why are NHS staff able to wait until April when they are dealing with patients who are just as vulnerable? “What is the rationale?

“If Sajid Javid believed this policy was important he would mandate vaccination across the whole system. “And if he believed it were necessary he should implement it with a proper plan to make it work in the face of mass staff shortages as many staff who do not want to take the vaccine will leave.

“The care home sector is already struggling to cope under reduced staffing. This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many care homes. We already have a shortage of homes, some have already closed, others are reducing capacity. What is the government going to do with the workforce shortage?

“I believe this vaccine mandate will create a crisis in social care.”

Last week The Independent Care Group (ICG) said the Government should rethink the “no jab, no job” policy for care workers, ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “We need help, not hindrances.

“What is the point in keeping hospitals working if there is nowhere to discharge patients to if homecare providers don’t have the staff to care for people at home and there are no staff for care and nursing homes?

“The Government has listened to the NHS’s concerns about the winter but ignored social care saying the same thing, time and time again.

“The Government has no understanding of how social care and NHS care need to work together.

“To delay this deadline for NHS workers but maintain the deadline for care workers makes no sense. Vaccination for care workers should be a personal choice, but if it is to be made mandatory it should at the very least be pushed back until April, like the NHS.

“Time and time again, the Government demonstrates that it doesn’t understand the relationship between NHS and social care. To spare the NHS this draconian measure but still impose it on social care staff is plain wrong.

“Don’t they understand that helping the NHS is pointless unless you support social care too. The two do not and cannot work independently of each other and yet here is another example of the Government believing they can.

“The Government is blind to just how deep the crisis in recruitment has become in social care and we are feeling the consequences with homecare providers unable to deliver care in people’s own homes through staffing shortages and care and nursing homes battling to fill their shifts.”

According to BBC reports, frontline NHS staff in England will also have to be fully vaccinated against Covid, the government is expected to announce.

The BBC say that a deadline will be set for next spring to give unvaccinated staff time to get both doses, Whitehall sources told the BBC.

Currently between 80,000 and 100,000 NHS workers in England are unvaccinated, said Chris Hopson, head of NHS Providers.

The government’s decision follows a consultation which began in September and considered whether both the Covid and flu jabs should be compulsory for frontline NHS and care workers.

 

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