Yorkshire care home bosses fear staff exodus as thousands miss vaccine deadline

Care home owners already struggling with a recruitment crisis are concerned they could lose more workers this winter when it will become a legal requirement for them to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, as thousands have missed the deadline for getting their first dose.

The Government has stated that everyone working at registered care homes must be double jabbed by November 11

The Government has stated that everyone working at registered care homes must be double jabbed by November 11, unless they are medically exempt, and they had until September 16 to receive their first dose.

The latest NHS figures show 92.7 per cent of older adult care home workers in England had received at least one dose by September 19, but 33,849 had not had a single jab.

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In Yorkshire and the North East, around six per cent of workers (4,574 people) had not received one dose by September 19.

Mike Padgham, managing director of Scarborough-based Saint Cecilia’s Care Group, said the mandatory jab policy is “not really going to help the sector” because it is “very, very short of staff”.

“We’re really worried about how we’re going to carry on delivering care,” he said. “If you’re a home, you can’t afford to lose two or three staff. It seems like small numbers, but they’re vital. I can’t see the civil servants or the Government coming to cover the shifts.”

Mr Padgham, who is also chair man of the Independent Care Group, said the care sector, which has advertised more than 55,000 care vacancies, has been struggling to recruit foreign workers since Brexit and the Government should offer thousands of overseas work visas to ease this shortage.

Trade unions have warned the policy could result in a staff exodus and care home closures, and earlier this year the Government estimated between 40,000 and 70,000 workers could be lost.

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: “Even in a best-case scenario we will lose tens of thousands of key workers if the jab is forced on them.  How will care bosses deal with these huge staffing vacancies. How can they reassure people residents will receive safe care?“

Care home workers and residents were prioritised when the vaccine roll out began in December, but some remain hesitant due to concerns about the vaccine affecting their ability to get pregnant, side effects, vaccine allergies and religious objections.

The Government will allow care home staff to self-certify that they meet the medical exemption criteria before the new NHS Covid pass system is introduced, but these exemptions will expire 12 weeks after its launch.

The Care Quality Commission, which will enforce the mandatory jab policy, said it will “assess each situation individually” and “always take any action including using our enforcement powers to ensure people are protected”.

A Government spokesman said more than 90 per cent of staff are vaccinated and it is working with councils and care home providers “to ensure there will always be enough staff”.

He added: “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.”