Scrap vaccine deadline for care-home workers or risk huge staff loss, warns provider | Social care


One of England’s largest social care providers has urged the government to scrap the vaccination deadline for all care-home workers, warning of a risk to levels of care as data confirmed that more than 50,000 staff could quit in the country from next week.

The care provider Anchor said it was poised to lose about 120 staff because of the “no jabs no jobs” policy effective from 11 November, and said it had already stopped admitting people to some homes because of the nationwide staffing crisis.

NHS data released on Thursday revealed that more than one in 10 care staff had still not had two doses of coronavirus vaccine. Only a few thousand of those people were granted medical exemptions from the jab. Otherwise the legislation makes double vaccination a condition of deployment in care homes.

Care home staff vaccinations

Rob Martin, chief executive of Anchor, a not-for-profit chain of 114 services, said: “If left unchecked I expect the problem to worsen. In the localities where there are staffing pressures, it means beds are being blocked … and there’s a backlog [of patients] in hospitals who can’t be discharged.”

Care homes are already struggling with at least 105,000 vacancies, and analysis by the Guardian of NHS data shows that since May the workforce in adult care homes declined by more than 10,000. Some of those will be people who have already left through not wanting the vaccine, but operators are also battling to retain “burned out” staff and prevent their leaving to join the NHS – where staff can earn more and where double vaccination is not likely to be mandatory until next spring.

Care operators have questioned why their staff are facing a tougher standard during the coming winter, especially as visitors going into care homes do not need to prove vaccination.

Council care chiefs have also reported a threat to staffing from the company Amazon which is offering £2,000 signing bonuses and pay rates of £11.10 an hour and up to £22.20 for overtime. The median care home wage is £9.01 per hour.

The latest NHS figures show that the areas where most care staff are set to be laid off include Manchester and Thurrock, where 21% of staff remain unvaccinated, Nottingham, where 19% are not double jabbed, and Wandsworth, London, where the latest figure is 18%.

Independent care homes also called for the policy to be paused, as the health secretary, Sajid Javid, prepares to announce that NHS staff will only have to be double vaccinated from next spring.

Nadra Ahmed, chief executive of the National Care Association, warned: “With staff set to exit we will see vulnerable people facing the dilemma of not being able to receive their assessed care needs, and families feeling the anguish of trying to step in.”

Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, which represents operators in the north of England, said: “What is the point in keeping hospitals working if there is nowhere to discharge patients to, if home-care providers don’t have the staff to care for people at home, and there are no staff for care and nursing homes?”

Emma, 34, a care worker in Bolton, said she was one of eight staff to leave her care home because of the vaccination policy. Five of them, including herself, have had the vaccine, but are leaving because they are upset at the way they were forced to take the vaccine. She said she felt “blackmailed” and that she was taking a new job at an NHS hospital on higher pay.

Dawn Mann, 44, left her Berkshire care home last week after deciding she did not want her second jab following adverse reactions to the first dose. The care home asked the regulator, CQC, to allow her to continue but it refused, and her GP declined to provide medical exemption. “I am sad about it,” she said. “It was a good job and they are stuck [for staff] already.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “Vaccines save lives and while staff and residents in care homes have been prioritised and the majority are now vaccinated, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to protect vulnerable people.

“Over 94% of care-home staff have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and nearly 90% have had their second. We are working closely with local authorities and care-home providers to ensure there will always be enough staff with the right skills to deliver high quality care.”



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