Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum (NCF) – the leading association for not-for-profit care providers responds to the signing off of the regulations by the Care Minister to start the countdown for compulsory vaccines as a condition of deployment for care home staff. Rayner said:
“With the regulations now approved, the countdown to implementation begins. The regulations will come into force on the 11th November, and the delayed impact statement produced by the government earlier this week outlined the potential impact on the care sector across all care homes. The statement itself was limited in detail and we await the full-scale analysis that backs it up. However, even with its summary assessment it is clear that even the lower level assumptions recognise the very significant and potentially catastrophic challenges for the delivery of care if the right level of guidance and support is not available.
“By their own assumption the government have determined that it is likely that 7% of the workforce will not be deployable as a result of this policy. The assessment claims that this is likely to mean that 40,000 staff are unlikely to be able to work in care homes within the next 16 weeks. In addition, the statement identifies an associated cost of £100 million to recruit and train replacement staff. However, this assumption does not bear any reference to the costs of implementation of the policy itself.
“With less than 16 weeks to go, the sector urgently needs guidance and sufficient resources provided in a timely manner for the sector to prepare for the implementation of this policy.”
The anticipated impact on staffing through the new regulations comes at the same time as a host of social care leaders from across the sector have put forward a Vision for a future workforce strategy. The need for this strategy is borne out of a recognition of the urgency within which the workforce needs reform – around pay, terms and conditions, training and career pathways. Without this, the current position of high turnover and high vacancies will only be sustained. It highlights a figure that will be very familiar to many – that on any given day social care has approximately 112K vacancies. The change to regulation could in 16 weeks’ time, without preparation or support, add a further 40K to that figure, something that we simply cannot allow to happen. The care workforce needs to be treated with the same level of respect and appreciation as NHS workers.
“The announcement around pay increases for NHS staff can only serve to rub salt in the wound for care staff, many of whom will have received no increase at all this year, or at best an increase in line with minimum wage. On taking up his post as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid wrote to all staff telling them he would ‘do everything he can to look out for you’. Let’s hope that he returns from isolation ready to honour this commitment, as right now the message is bearing no resemblance to the experience on the frontline.”