Care homes face closure if the government persists with draconian plans to sack care staff who aren’t doubled-vaccinated by midnight tomorrow (Wednesday), warns UNISON.
The union says the ‘no jab, no job’ policy risks the collapse of care companies, and needless upset for thousands of elderly residents and their families.
Care staff will be banned from entering care homes in England unless they are double jabbed by 11 November. Today (Tuesday), health and social care secretary Sajid Javid announced the double-jab rule will be extended and apply to all domiciliary care workers from 1 April.
However, the care sector is already facing a staffing catastrophe. UNISON believes mandatory vaccination should be scrapped or the deadline for care home staff put back to next April.
The government itself predicts the loss of up to 70,000 care home workers because of its policy. This is in addition to existing vacancies in care which currently stand at more than 105,000.
UNISON fears some care homes could be forced to shut their doors and others will struggle to meet safe staffing levels to provide satisfactory care.
The union believes that everyone that can have the vaccine, should have the vaccine. However, the government’s heavy-handed rules have driven much-needed staff away and now tens of thousands face the sack.
Resources should instead be used to persuade hesitant workers of the benefits of taking the jab, says UNISON. The union says the government could also consider mandatory daily testing for non-vaccinated care home workers as an alternative.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Care have employers warned of the dire consequences of a draconian approach. The staffing crisis will become a catastrophe for a sector already on its knees.
“Some homes may have to close if care staff are barred from their jobs. The upheaval and distress caused to many elderly residents and their families would be disastrous.
“Forcing the vaccine on care staff is an own goal by the government. Take-up rates will only increase with persuasion, not punishment.”
Notes to editors:– New regulations came into force on 22 July making Covid vaccination compulsory for those working in care homes from 11 November 2021. The last possible date for a first jab was 16 September to allow staff to receive both doses by this date. Mandatory vaccination regulations don’t apply to care homes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. – UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
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