Care homes 'have to shut or break law' due to mandatory Covid jabs

Care homes say they will have to shut or break the law by keeping on unvaccinated staff unless ministers push back deadline for compulsory Covid jabs — as figures show almost a tenth are still to get first dose

  • Unions and care bosses warned of a staffing exodus due to ‘no jab, no job’ policy
  • A quarter haven’t been double-dosed and 8% are yet to receive a single injection
  • Unions say 70,000 carers will still be unvaccinated by deadline on November 11 

Care homes are faced with the ultimatum of closing or breaking the law due to the Government’s ‘no jab, no job’ policy, it was claimed today. 

Unions and care bosses have warned of a staffing exodus due to the requirement for carers to be vaccinated with two doses by November 11.

Today is the last day for tens of thousands of care home workers who are yet to get their first injection, due to the eight-week gap between doses.

Of the 470,000 care home workers who look after elderly residents in England, 92 per cent had their first dose as of September 5, while 84 per cent are fully-jabbed. 

The GMB trade union estimate 70,000 staff who look after elderly residents may not be immunised in time for the November 11 deadline. 

Martin Green, chief executive of the country’s biggest provider Care England, said homes could be forced to shut, break the law or offer substandard care.

He told  BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘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.

‘Care homes are now in a difficult position, facing the reality of do they have enough staff to maintain safety and quality of care?

Of the 470,000 care home workers who look after elderly residents in England, 92 per cent had their first dose as of September 5, while 84 per cent are fully-jabbed

‘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.

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

Frontline NHS workers in England who haven’t had both of their Covid jabs by winter could be sacked or at the very least redeployed.   

The Government today launched a six-week consultation into plans to make vaccination a legal requirement to work with NHS patients. 

Under the plans, 1.2million frontline NHS staff will be required by law to be jabbed to reduce transmission in hospitals. 

Those who refuse the jab could be barred from working with patients, meaning that they will likely be redeployed or risk losing their jobs.

Social Care Minister Helen Whately today said staff who reject the vaccine could be moved back to office roles. 

Figures show 88 per cent of NHS staff are fully vaccinated and around 92 per cent have had a first dose, despite being first offered a jab last December.  

The numbers are lower in London, where there has been more hesitancy about vaccination, with only 86 per cent have had a first jab. 

Uptake among health workers is slightly less than the national average for over-18s in England, with 88.5 per cent having taken up the offer of a first dose.  

But the move to make jabs compulsory despite fears among NHS bosses it could trigger a staffing crisis, hampering efforts to tackle the enormous care backlog. They warned it could be discriminatory. 

With less than 24 hours before the deadline for first vaccines, the Government announced a temporary self-certification process for medical exemptions. 

It will allow carers to exempt themselves without oversight from a doctor, in a move which has been  described as a ‘loophole’.

Those who do not need to be vaccinated include people with learning disabilities or autism who find vaccination distressing because of their condition.

Also exempt are people with a severe allergy to the vaccines and those who had adverse reactions to their first dose.

Pregnant care home workers and people with short-term medical conditions will also be able to apply for a ‘time-limited exemption’, which expires in 12 weeks. 

Providers said it could be misused by employees who are not prepared to get jabbed and wish to stay in work for longer, and that it kicks the can down the road. 

GMB said the Government had ‘fudged it’ at the eleventh hour.

Mike Padgham, who runs Saint Cecilia’s Care Group in Scarborough, said four of his 164 care staff do not want to get vaccinated, one of whom is medically exempt.

He is calling for the Government to postpone the mandatory vaccination deadline or rethink it entirely, allowing carers to work wearing enhanced PPE and after taking daily tests.

In a letter to be sent to Health Secretary Sajid Javid he wrote: ‘I cannot redeploy them, as I have nowhere to redeploy them to.

‘Even if I did, I would find it extremely hard to find four care workers to replace them in the teeth of the worst staffing crisis in the history of social care provision.

‘Am I to sack them or send them home and leave myself four team members down? If I do sack them, do I leave myself open to four industrial tribunals?

‘Whatever I do, I run the risk of contravening Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulations and being prevented from operating as a provider.’

The Government has said the temporary system will ensure those with medical exemptions can continue working.

Unvaccinated care worker mother, 55, and daughter, 32, die of Covid within two weeks of each other as ‘devastated’ father says their decision not to get the jab will ‘haunt him for the rest of his life’

An unvaccinated British mother and her daughter have died less than a fortnight apart in hospital after both contracted coronavirus, leaving their family ‘devastated’.

Sammie-Jo Forde, 32, died in Ulster Hospital near Belfast last Saturday, only 11 days after her mother Heather Maddern, 55, passed away in the same ward on August 31.

Miss Forde’s father Kevin McAllister said it will ‘haunt me for the rest of my life’ that his daughter did not take the vaccine, adding that she leaves behind four children.

Both Miss Forde and Ms Maddern – who were only two beds away from each other in hospital – were care workers who looked after elderly people in their own homes.

Miss Forde, who had no underlying health conditions, had been texting her father while she was being treated in hospital and told him: ‘Dad, Mummy’s passed away’

Kevin McAllister is pictured with his daughter Sammie-Jo Forde, who died in Ulster Hospital

A funeral for Ms Maddern, who lived in Groomsport, was held three days ago on Monday – while a service for Miss Forde is set to take place next Monday.

In an emotional interview, Mr McAllister told BBC Radio Five Live presenter Stephen Nolan yesterday: ‘I’ve had the worst weekend of my life last weekend.

‘My daughter passed away on Saturday, Covid-19. Her mummy got buried yesterday, she had Covid-19, and both of them never took the Covid-19 injections.

‘My daughter was 32 with four kids. To make matters worse was it’s her oldest son’s birthday today. He will be 13 today.

‘So these people who are not taking their Covid-19 injection, they are not thinking of the other people they’re leaving behind.

‘I’ve lost my daughter, my best friend, all I have are memories of her, motorbike racing, fishing, driving diggers, that’s all the memories I have.

Miss Forde (right), 32, died in Ulster Hospital near Belfast last Saturday, only 11 days after her mother Heather Maddern (left), 55, passed away in the same ward on August 31

‘She’s getting buried next Monday – and I can’t give her a kiss cheerio. To happen to your own family, I wouldn’t wish it on nobody, what I’ve gone through.

‘I’ve come back to work today to get my mind off it, but next Monday, I have to bury my first born, my best friend, my daughter, and I just never can get out of my mind why she didn’t take it. It will haunt me for the rest of my life.’

Mr McAllister, who also has two sons, said he did not understand why neither his daughter nor Ms Maddern, who is his ex-partner, decided not to have the jab.

“They helped other people and they couldn’t even help themselves,” he said, adding of his daughter: ‘I just wish to God she’d took it.’

Yesterday, ten further deaths of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 were reported in Northern Ireland.

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