England care homes ‘may be forced to close’ as Covid jab deadline looms

Government has ruled care staff must be fully vaccinated with Thursday last day for first jab

Care homes may be forced to close and thousands of staff risk losing their jobs if they decline to receive their first Covid-19 vaccine by the end of Thursday, ministers have been warned.

Providers and unions have warned of an exodus of staff in England due to the government’s requirement for them to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus by 11 November. Thursday has been set as their last opportunity for a first dose unless they are medically exempt.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said the mandatory vaccination policy was “very unfair” and that about 2,000 of the region’s care home workers faced losing their jobs overnight unless they received their first jab within hours.

Burnham said carers were being “singled out” by the government, although the health and social care secretary, Sajid Javid, has said that the policy was “highly likely” to be extended to frontline NHS staff after a consultation.

Ministers have previously said they estimate that about 7% of the 570,000 CQC-registered care home staff in England – about 40,000 people – will refuse the vaccine and therefore no longer be able to care for residents after 11 November.

Prof Martin Green, the chief executive of Care England, a body representing independent care service providers, said the policy would deepen the sector’s staffing crisis and could force some homes to close.

“We all accept we want as many people as possible to be vaccinated. But I do feel the government has gone forward with the social care compulsion without understanding the implications, without having a thought-out plan on how they are going to deal with staff shortages,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday.

“Care homes are now in a difficult position, facing the reality of do they have enough staff to maintain safety and quality of care? They are in the position of either having to transgress the law or expose people they support to levels of staffing that are not going to deliver the safety you’re required to.”

He added: “There’s the inevitability that in some areas, if you can’t get the staff, then there will be care homes that close.”

North Yorkshire council said about 400 of its 20,000 care sector staff had not yet received a vaccine, meaning they risk losing their jobs.

Burnham said about one in 10 of all health and social care staff in Greater Manchester were not vaccinated, including about 2,000 care home workers.

“It’s for different people to make their judgments about the vaccine but I do believe it’s very unfair to put people in a position where they have concerns but then have no ability to maintain their job, if they’ve chosen not to be vaccinated,” he said.

“It is the case also that staff are leaving social care to work in the NHS where there is no such restriction, so it’s hard to see the logic of this particular policy when it doesn’t apply more broadly. Either it shouldn’t apply at all, or it should apply more broadly.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Over 90% of care home staff have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine ahead of the 11 November deadline and we encourage even more staff to get vaccinated to protect their colleagues and those they care for.

“Temporarily, those who meet the criteria for a medical exemption will be able to self-certify until we introduce a new system. This will ensure those with medical exemptions can continue working in care homes.

“Our message is clear: vaccines save lives and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the risk for vulnerable people in care homes.”

Contributor

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Care homes in Bolton advised to continue lockdown measures
Local council asks homes not to follow Covid roadmap, fearing infections linked to variant found in India may cause ‘severe outbreak’

Helen Pidd, Maya Wolfe-Robinson and Libby Brooks

13, May, 2021 @4:04 PM

Article image
Mandatory Covid jabs for care workers in England unworkable, warn bosses
Warning care homes may be legally liable for enforcing policy while some staff say they would rather quit

Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent

17, Jun, 2021 @2:52 PM

Article image
Volunteers may be required in staffing shortfall at English care homes
‘Alarming’ drop in workers signing up, with many put off by requirement to be fully vaccinated against Covid by 11 November

Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent

24, Aug, 2021 @4:05 PM

Article image
UK rights watchdog endorses compulsory Covid jabs for care home staff
EHRC says ministers right to make protecting life a priority despite ‘departure’ from health policy

Aubrey Allegretti

02, Jun, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
NHS Covid app could be used to prove status and access venues in England
Measures being considered would see pubs and restaurants checking if customers have been vaccinated or recently tested

Aubrey Allegretti and Jessica Elgot

24, Feb, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Plan to discharge Covid patients to care homes in England is 'madness'
DoH guidance says patients would not need to take a test after their isolation period

Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent

14, Jan, 2021 @2:55 PM

Article image
Relatives invited to move into care homes in England amid Covid lockdowns
Two-week stays among efforts by providers to keep residents in contact with families

Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent

23, Sep, 2020 @5:00 AM

Article image
Care homes still breaking Covid rules despite fatal outbreaks, inspectors say
Care Quality Commission finds minority of homes unsafe and risking spread of infection

Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent

04, Feb, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Plan to oblige care staff to have Covid jab and England easing delay confirmed
Matt Hancock makes vaccine announcement before MPs vote to approve 19 July lockdown end date

Peter Walker, Denis Campbell and Robert Booth

16, Jun, 2021 @7:30 PM

Article image
Covid lockdowns to be eased for over 1m people in north-west England
Households will be able to mix in parts of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

28, Aug, 2020 @5:22 PM