Hundreds of Bucks care home staff to lose jobs after missing Covid vaccination deadline
Plenty of key workers didn't get their first dose of a Covid vaccine in time.
Hundreds of care home staff in Bucks are set to lose their jobs as they didn't receive their Covid vaccination before the government deadline.
The government set a September 16 mandatory deadline for care workers to get jabbed against Covid.
With the expectation that care staff throughout the UK would get their second dosage before November 11, the medically exempt were not required to meet this threshold.
The 560 key workers not vaccinated will be banned from entering residencies and potentially face the sack.
Data accurate up to September 19 shows Bucks to be below the national average for vaccine uptake among care home staff.
Across England 92.3% of care workers have at least received their first dose of a Covid vaccine, the Bucks-wide figure is slightly lower at 89.5%.
Latest available data which doesn't cover this year, had the vacancy rate in the care sector at 9.2% in Bucks.
Bucks' region was the worst when it came to convincing its staff to receive a Covid jab. In the South East 8.3% of staff won't be able to work in care homes after November 11, this percentage is higher than any other part of England.
Overall the NHS England data suggests 42,698 people could face the sack.
Trade union, Unison, has criticised the mandate, general secretary, Christina McAnea said: “Everyone that can have the vaccine, should have the vaccine. But the government has persisted with a heavy-handed approach despite warnings from care employers of the dire consequences.
“This move is damaging a sector already on its knees and undermining trust in the vaccine. If roles can’t be filled, the level and volume of care offered will be reduced. Vaccine-hesitant staff must be offered reassurance and persuasion, not threats and ultimatums.
“Instead of encouraging much-needed recruitment into care, the government is actively driving experienced staff away. It’s not too late for ministers to admit the error of their ways and bring care back from the precipice.”
When the mandate was announced in August, a government spokesperson stated that providers should “explore all options” to redeploy unvaccinated staff elsewhere, before authorising termination of contracts.
The vaccination figures quoted include both permanent and agency staff employed by independent and local authority-run care homes for people aged 65 and over, and independent care homes for adults aged under 65.
Any staff employed directly by councils in younger adult care homes are missing from the figures – but the vast majority of care staff in England work for independent providers.
Care England, which represents providers, warned earlier this month that the sector was “at breaking point” over recruitment and retention – even before the loss of unvaccinated workers.
Chief executive Professor Martin Green said: “The writing is on the wall and without immediate help, as given to the NHS, the social care sector will crumple and not be there to support the NHS over the winter let alone in years to come”.
A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care told National World: “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.
“We are working closely with local authorities and care home providers to ensure there will always be enough staff with the right skills to deliver high quality care.”