Social care had been taken for granted by successive governments long before the ‘ring of steel’ promised by Ministers at the start of the pandemic proved to be the biggest betrayal of all.
And, while the Government is belatedly recognising the importance of the care sector, it needs to show far more deftness over the vaccination of carers.
The reason is this. Even though it takes very special people to become carers, a significant number are – for reasons not totally clear – reluctant to have the Covid vaccine.
Why? It is a perplexing imponderable that takes on added significance because care staff not double-jabbed by November 11 will be forbidden from frontline duties unless they have a specific medical exemption.
With 33,849 care home workers nationally still to have their first jab, the Government and care sector need to redouble existing efforts to persuade carers to be vaccinated in the interests of their own health – and also of the wellbeing of all those they look after who, in the main, desire familiarity and continuity of care over uncertainty.
But what happens next? Government guidance says this: “If any staff members do leave the sector, guidance and resources will be in place for providers. This will ensure they can recruit a suitable replacement...”
And this, in turn, begs another question – where do Ministers expect to find these ‘suitable replacements’ when the national shortage of carers is already in excess of 120,000 people?
That, too, is a question that Ministers need to answer now rather than in the depths of winter. By then, it will, in all likelihood, be too late to even sort out temporary visas like those now being issued to HGV drivers and food workers.
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