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THE government’s proposals for Covid-19 vaccinations to become mandatory for care home staff were condemned today by their unions who warned that it could lead to a staff “exodus.”
It follows reports that ministers will soon announce that they will change the law to make vaccines mandatory for care home staff over concerns about take-up.
Under the plans, staff working with adults will be given 16 weeks to get vaccinated or face losing their jobs, according to the newspaper.
Unite said that “encouragement, not compulsion” was the best approach.
Assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “A checklist of reasons behind the shocking level of infection in care homes points to a stack of government failures.
“It is invidious that social care staff should be singled out in this fashion — it smacks of the government trying to divert attention from its massive failure at the beginning of the pandemic to protect elderly residents from coronavirus.
“The social care sector is in urgent need of root and branch reform. There needs to be a national care service with the same status as the NHS where staff are paid fairly.
“NHS and social care workers need and deserve respect from our government, a decent pay rise and a drastic reduction in vacancies that are placing an immense strain on the system.”
GMB said that the “ill-thought through” plans could lead to a staff exodus.
National officer Rachel Harrison said: “This looks like another potentially avoidable mess.
“We’ve told ministers that more than a third of our members in social care would consider packing their jobs in if vaccines were mandated. They can’t now say they weren’t warned.
“GMB won’t stop calling out politicians who don’t have the foggiest idea or concern about the impact their decisions make on a workforce already suffering from many of the worst political failures during the pandemic.”
Some care home staff have already signalled their intention to leave their jobs if they are required to have coronavirus jabs, an industry operator has said.
Geoff Butcher, who runs six homes in the Midlands, said that staffing issues are the “biggest concern” for the sector and that the move “will add hugely to the problems in recruiting.”
Officials at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) did not deny the report.
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