Care boss urges No10 to delay ‘no jab, no job’ policy until April over fears exodus of 60,000 unvaccinated staff will backfire and KILL elderly residents
- Mike Padgham called on ministers to push back the deadline until next spring
- He said this would bring it into line with that for frontline NHS workers
- And added it would help homes to get through the difficult winter ahead
No10 was today urged to delay its controversial ‘no jab, no job’ policy for carers until April over fears the plans could backfire and kill elderly residents.
From tomorrow, all care home employees must have had two Covid vaccines to keep their jobs. Estimates suggest up to 60,000 workers will be made redundant.
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, which represents providers in Yorkshire, has called on ministers to push back the deadline to next spring.
The plea came after it was announced yesterday that NHS workers will have until spring to get their two doses. Some 103,000 are still yet to receive one dose.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the delay was needed to help the sector through the winter, and to match the timeline set yesterday for the NHS.
He warned mandating jabs could kill vulnerable residents because homes would be left with ‘unsafe’ staffing levels.
Unions have already claimed hundreds of homes may be forced to close their doors for good from tomorrow because of staffing shortages. The sector was already short of 100,000 workers before the pandemic struck.
But ministers say the policy will ensure vulnerable residents are ‘properly protected’. A care home near Preston received an award today for getting every staff member double-jabbed against the virus.
Sajid Javid dismissed fears tomorrow’s deadline would cause elderly residents to die, however. The Health Secretary insisted the policy was ‘manageable’ for the sector.
The above graph shows the proportion of staff working in care homes for the over-65s who have received their first and second doses of the vaccine. It reveals that there was no sharp surge in uptake when the jabs were made compulsory
Mike Padgham (left), chair of the Independent Care Group which represents providers in Yorkshire, has called on ministers to push back the deadline to next April in order to match the NHS. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said care home employees had had five months to get the Covid vaccine
The above chart is from the Government assessment of the impact of mandating double-vaccination in the NHS (second column) and in social care (fourth column). It shows the Government expects 38,000 social care workers to leave their roles when it is mandated
Care bosses have repeatedly pleaded with ministers to delay the vaccine mandate for the sector. It is feared the plans will spark a mass exodus forcing home to limit their beds or close completely.
Some 38,000 social care workers are expected to refuse to get the vaccine and be asked to leave the sector, according to the Government’s estimates.
But unions have suggested as many as 60,000 could lose their jobs when the mandate kicks in.
Mr Javid yesterday extended the ‘no jab, no job’ policy to frontline NHS staff — including doctors, nurses, receptionists and cleaners.
But he said it would not come into force until April, after health chiefs urged him not to impose the requirement over the ‘very, very’ difficult winter.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has defended what he claimed was the ‘perfectly reasonable’ no jab no job policy for NHS staff, despite official estimates showing it will only convince one in six unvaccinated NHS workers to get the vaccine.
His defense this morning came as care industry leaders warned the midnight Covid vaccine deadline for their sector will put patient lives at risk.
Some of the 100,000 unvaccinated NHS staff have vowed to leave the health service if Government presses ahead with making being fully vaccinated a condition of deployment in the NHS.
One trainee nurse told MailOnline he’ll quit and become a dog trainer if vaccines are made compulsory for NHS staff by the Government’s April deadline.
But Mr Javid told Radio 4 this morning it was NHS staff’s ‘duty’ to get the jab in order to protect patients.
‘This is all about patient safety, we know vaccines work, we know that they reduce the risk of you being infected, so it reduces the spread of an infection,’ he said.
‘People whether they are in care homes or a hospital bed, they are particularly vulnerable to this virus, it could be fatal.’
‘It is our duty to everything we can to protect them.’
Critics have blasted the plans as neither ‘necessary nor proportionate’, pointing out that more than nine in ten care home workers and NHS staff are already double-jabbed.
But ministers argue that all patients in hospitals or homes deserve to be ‘properly protected’.
Care homes were disproportionately affected by Covid during the pandemic after infected patients were discharged to them from hospital.
Official figures show some 43,000 care home residents have died from the virus since the pandemic began.
Calling for the care home mandate to be delayed, Mr Padgham told the Today programme: ‘I would appeal to them to match the deadline for the health service which it brought in for April.
‘We need that time to get through the winter to make sure we can provide care safely.’
He added: ‘We need to delay it because we want to give people the right level of care and it’s a tough winter ahead, it’s a tough winter for the health service, it’s a tough winter for us, and we need to work together.’
Asked whether the policy would trigger deaths, he said: ‘Yes, I do believe that because I think that it is incredibly important that care homes have the right level of staffing.
‘We just don’t have any answers as to what do we do if we run out of staff? Facilities might have to reduce the number of people they look after or even, in some cases, close.
‘There’s no room to go into hospital, no room in the community, we’ve got the Government who won’t allow temporary visas for staff to come in for social care either, so all roads to try and make things work seem to be blocked.’
When the claim was put to Mr Javid, he denied the policy would trigger deaths.
He said: ‘I think certainly from everything that we’ve seen while this will be challenging for the sector, ultimately it is manageable and will make it a safer place.
‘If we did not have this policy it would mean that you would still have thousands of people that care for people that are very vulnerable that are more likely than otherwise to be infected by this virus.
‘It’s still out there — and they would be passing that on potentially to people that are so vulnerable that it could be fatal. I think that should not be accepted.’
Ministers were criticised when they brought in the policy for failing to publish an impact assessment — which would have laid out plans for managing a staffing crisis.
There were some 76,000 employees in older adult care homes who had not been jabbed when the policy was announced in June.
The above map shows the five areas where more than one in five care home employees are still yet to get two doses of the Covid vaccine
This has since fallen to 25,000, but care sources say making jabs compulsory had only a ‘little’ effect on uptake because there was no sudden jump in inoculations in the five months leading up to the deadline.
The up to 60,000 unvaccinated employees figure is based on all care homes — including those for younger adults — which were not included in the statistics.
An impact assessment published on plans to get all frontline NHS staff to be double jabbed estimates only 20,000 out of 125,000 unvaccinated employees will be spurred on to get the jab.
It also shows that ministers expect 73,000 not to come forward for the vaccines and by default lose their job. The remaining 30,000 are medically exempt.
Mr Javid said the ‘scales clearly tipped to one side’ in favour of compulsory jabs, but critics say they are unnecessary given that 90 per cent of staff are already fully jabbed and 93 per cent have had their first dose.
But unvaccinated NHS staff have reacted angrily to the policy.
A trainee GP has said she would rather give up her training than get inoculated against the virus.
Dr Reamika West told the BBC: ‘I have not had the jab.
‘I have had Covid so I know that I’ve got excellent immunity from having recently had Covid. I am also happy to be regularly tested if I am going to see patients.
‘It’s just at the end of the day it’s unethical to force anyone to have a medical procedure.
‘If they’re decided for various reasons to not have this medical procedure, it should not be up to the Government to force me to or to say I’m going to lose my job.’
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