Thousands of unjabbed care home staff set to quit for NHS as compulsory vaccination law comes into force
- Thousands of care home workers set to quit for NHS when law comes into force
- Government bringing law in on Thursday to protect elderly against Covid
- Up to 60,000 care home workers across England are not double-jabbed
Thousands of unvaccinated nurses and healthcare assistants who work in care homes are set to flood the NHS, say bosses, as a ban on unjabbed staff in social care comes into effect.
Up to 60,000 care home workers across England – about ten per cent of the sector’s workforce – have still not been double-vaccinated against Covid, according to official figures.
But on Thursday, they will be forced to leave their jobs when a new law banning the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated from working in care homes kicks in.
The hard-line move is part of the Government’s drive to ensure elderly residents, who can still develop severe Covid illness despite being double-vaccinated, are protected.
Ministers insist the law is necessary, and point out that care home staff have had months of warning.
But care home bosses say the move will lead to staff simply swapping one workplace where they care for the vulnerable elderly – care homes; for another – hospitals.
Up to 60,000 care home workers across England – about ten per cent of the sector’s workforce – have still not been double-vaccinated against Covid, according to official figures (stock image)
That is because the Government has agreed to delay the imposition of the same ‘no jabs, no job’ rule on NHS workers until the spring. Care bosses are also warning the new law risks snarling up hospitals with ‘bed blockers’ – patients well enough to be discharged but not strong enough to live on their own – as staffing shortages will force them to close homes to new residents. Last night, Dr Charles Armitage, director of the National Care Force, which helps social care providers fill staff gaps with health workers and volunteers, said: ‘Unvaccinated staff are going to leave and work in retail and hospitality, or go to the NHS because they don’t need to have vaccinations to work there – which is robbing Peter to pay Paul.
‘Then you suddenly get this influx of workers into the NHS who are unvaccinated and it just shifts the problem there.’
Agencies are already turning up at care homes offering staff on £9 to £11 an hour £17 to work in the NHS, said Wade Newmark of The Dales Nursing Home in Exeter.
Mike Padgham, (pictured) of the Independent Care Group, said ‘a considerable number’ of care home nurses and healthcare assistants were migrating to the NHS. ‘In my view, it’s a bizarre policy having two different deadlines,’ he added
Mike Padgham, of the Independent Care Group, said ‘a considerable number’ of care home nurses and healthcare assistants were migrating to the NHS. ‘In my view, it’s a bizarre policy having two different deadlines,’ he added.
Social care organisations have asked Health Secretary Sajid Javid to delay the ban until the end of March, with Mr Padgham saying ‘no one would criticise Ministers for changing their minds’.
That is unlikely to happen. Ministers are haunted by the spectre of last year, when tens of thousands of care home residents died after being infected with Covid – sometimes by patients discharged from hospitals, sometimes by staff.
The deadline threat has also worked, to some extent, as the proportion of double-jabbed staff has risen in recent months.
Care Minister Gillian Keegan (pictured) said: ‘Whether because of age or underlying health conditions, our loved ones in care homes are at the highest risk of the worst effects of Covid-19. We have all seen the devastating effects the virus has had on these group’
London care worker and GMB union rep Chika Ruben, who is tasked with encouraging colleagues to get jabbed, said: ‘Many decided to get vaccinated when the Government said they were going to make it compulsory. It changed minds. You don’t want to lose your job.’
Care Minister Gillian Keegan said: ‘Whether because of age or underlying health conditions, our loved ones in care homes are at the highest risk of the worst effects of Covid-19. We have all seen the devastating effects the virus has had on these groups.’
However, many care home bosses said they fear the policy will cause more problems than it solves.
Sam Monaghan, chief executive of MHA, the UK’s largest charity care provider, said: ‘The staffing crisis in social care means that for MHA an average of 7.5 per cent of our care homes have been closed to new admissions over the past weeks.
‘The mandatory vaccination for people working in care homes will mean we lose [more] people from the sector.’
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