Government has ‘seriously misjudged’ mandatory vaccines with care services ‘dangerously compromised’
Unmet need is “paralysing” health and social care services and the requirement for frontline staff to be vaccinated against coronavirus must be abandoned, a social care boss has warned.
The Homecare Association said “further serious harm” is likely to come to older and disabled people and their families if between 15 and 20% of home care staff cannot work because they are unvaccinated.
It said the Government has “seriously misjudged” the balance between the mitigated risk of infection and the risk of people going without vital care.
And it is concerned that the safety and wellbeing of older and disabled people will be “dangerously compromised”.
It is calling for the Government to withdraw the regulations now – before employers start serving notice on unvaccinated employees.
Chief executive Dr Jane Townson (pictured) said: “All along, we have strongly supported vaccination against Covid-19, as there is clear evidence it helps to save lives.
“At the same time, we have consistently argued that persuasion would likely be more successful than compulsion in achieving high vaccine uptake, especially among those with genuine fears.
“And we have repeatedly stressed the need to balance the mitigated risk of infection with the risk of older and disabled people going without vital care at home.
“In pressing ahead with regulations requiring vaccination as a condition of deployment in CQC-regulated wider care settings, including homecare, we believe the Government has seriously misjudged this balance of risk.”
Two vaccine doses for care home staff in England have been mandatory as a condition of deployment since November.
The new policy affects frontline NHS and wider social care staff working in regulated settings in England.
The deadline for these workers to have their first vaccine doses is February 3, and they must be double jabbed before the policy kicks in on April 1.
But there have been calls for the policy to be delayed, amid fears that it could force thousands of frontline workers to leave their roles at a time when patient demand is high.
On Monday afternoon MPs will debate a petition, which has received more than 217,000 signatures, calling for it to made illegal for any employer to mandate vaccination for its employees.
Latest figures from NHS England, covering up to January 16, suggest that 13.1% of domiciliary care staff in registered settings (more than 53,000 staff) and 5% of NHS staff (more than 80,000) staff have not had their first dose.
Some 18.9% (77,080 staff) have not been recorded as having received their second dose.
Some of these staff will be exempt.
The Government’s impact assessment, published in November when the policy was announced, estimates that 73,000 NHS staff and 35,000 social care staff will remain unvaccinated by the time the policy comes into force.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab played down suggestions over the weekend that the April 1 deadline could be postponed.
His comments came after a report suggested that compulsory vaccines for NHS workers would be delayed for six months under eleventh-hour plans being considered by Boris Johnson.
The Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Nursing have called for a delay.
The Department of Health and Social Care has insisted that there are no plans for a delay.
A spokesperson said: “Health and social care workers look after the most vulnerable people in society, who could face serious health consequences if exposed to the virus.
“Ensuring staff are vaccinated is the right thing to do to protect patients and those in care. The vast majority of NHS staff have had the vaccine which is our best defence against Covid-19.”
Meanwhile Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said he would “not rule out” recruiting vaccine refusenik NHS workers forced to stand down from their roles in England.
Vaccines are not compulsory for frontline health staff in Wales.
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