Mandatory staff jabs plan ‘is cruel’, says Shropshire care homes boss

Government plans to make it compulsory for all care home workers to receive a Covid jab have prompted concerns from bosses in Shropshire.

Ministers are expected to announce the measure in the coming days, after a consultation was carried out into using staff vaccination in England to protect the most vulnerable from Covid-19.

If staff refuse they could be removed from the front line or risk losing their job.

But David Coull, chief executive of Coverage Care Services – which runs 12 care homes in Shropshire and employs around 1,000 staff, has called the plans 'cruel' and he says it would be a recruitment hurdle.

"I'm pretty disappointed about the timing and the fact social care has been singled out," he said.

"Care homes are busy places. You have doctors, district nurses, tradesmen and lots of other people visiting.

"There's no expectation that they have to have the vaccine and we cannot demand that they do.

"I completely understand that there are areas where numbers are still not adequate but that calls for a more focused approach, rather than a blanket one."

Mr Coull added: "For the sector, it is just another hurdle which will make recruitment more difficult.

Majority

"It seems the wrong time and the wrong priority. It doesn't make sense.

"These are people who have cared for residents throughout the pandemic. We should be congratulating our colleagues and finding a way to support them to make their own choice. These plans seem pretty cruel."

Mr Coull said 96 per cent of residents in the provider's care homes have received both their Covid jabs, while 92 per cent of staff are also double vaccinated.

The vast majority of care home staff have now been vaccinated across the county. Latest figures show 91 per cent of care home staff in Shropshire have had their first jab, while the figure is 89 per cent in Telford and Wrekin.

Almost 500 staff who were eligible to get the vaccine - including agency workers - at older adult care homes had not been vaccinated by June 6.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is known to be in favour of the move, while England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said doctors and care workers have a “professional responsibility” to protect their patients.

It comes after concerns that some parts of the country, such as London, have particularly low uptake of vaccines for care home staff.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and have already saved thousands of lives – with millions of health and care staff vaccinated.

“Our priority is to make sure people in care homes are protected and we launched the consultation to get views on whether and how the Government might take forward a new requirement for adult care home providers, looking after older people, to only deploy staff who have had a Covid-19 vaccination or have an appropriate exemption.”

The decision is controversial, with the GMB union saying that more than a third of carers would consider leaving their jobs if vaccinations become compulsory.

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