The government’s mandatory Covid vaccination policy in adult social care could lead to the loss of an estimated 40,000 staff with a replacement costs of £2,500 each to care homes in England, according to a Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) impact assessment.
The impact statement sets out the analysis which has been conducted on the requirement for all those working in a care home registered by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to be vaccinated, covering estimates of the potential size of the workforce who may not have met the requirement by the end of the grace period, the potential scale of exemptions, and assumptions made around the cost of replacing workers, and will form the basis of a more detailed impact assessment which will be submitted to the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) for their scrutiny and published in due course.
The study estimates seven per cent of the around 570,000 staff working in Care Quality Commission-registered care homes may refuse to take up the vaccine before the end of the ‘no jab, no job’ grace period.
From October, anyone working in a CQC-registered care home in England must have had two Covid-19 vaccines unless they have a medical exemption.
The DHSC estimates the loss of 40,000 English care home staff would hit the sector with a one-off cost of £100m.
“This may place a temporary increased strain on those workers already vaccinated, until replacement workers are recruited,” the report states, adding that potential unquantified costs may include a temporary loss of job for those who may leave the workforce due to the policy. This may place a temporary increased strain on those workers already vaccinated, until replacement workers are recruited. There is also an unquantified risk that some care homes who have higher levels of vaccine hesitancy amongst staff will find it more difficult or costly to replace workers. This risk may be focused in certain areas or regions, as the uptake of vaccinations in the local labour market will vary and partly determine the available supply of and demand for new workers.
However, there may also be unquantified benefits which the report says are fairly substantial and long lasting. These include the benefits to workers and residents from reduced illness. This will avoid loss productivity due to absences caused by COVID-19 among staff and maximise protection for those most clinically vulnerable. Care users will also benefit from a reduction in the currently unequal level of risk across care homes which will help to ensure that care users are not unequally impacted by the threat of the virus or the impact of staff absences.The policy was supported by MPs in a Commons vote that passed by 319 votes to 246.
The mandatory vaccine regulations will also apply to auxiliary care workers, tradesmen, hairdressers and others who need to enter a home to do other work unless they have a medical exemption.