Vaccination rule leaves thousands of care home nurses unable to work

Deadline for care home workforce COVID-19 vaccinations marked by warnings of staff shortages
Picture of a care home resident looking perplexed

Deadline for care home workforce COVID-19 vaccinations marked by warnings of staff shortages

Picture of a care home resident looking perplexed
Picture: iStock

Thousands of care home nurses and staff are unable to go to work today, as the government’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination rules kick in.

As of 11 November all care home nurses and staff in England are required to have two doses of the vaccine to be allowed to continue in their job, unless medically exempt.

Care home organisations echo warnings over staff shortages

The requirement for mandatory vaccines for care home staff has caused concern that the sector will be left unable to cope due to staff shortages.

RCN national officer Clare Jacobs called on the government to address concerns about a staffing crisis in social care. ‘We know the majority have already taken up the vaccine, but today we fear the consequences as a result of those who will be losing their jobs,’ she said. ‘It is vital for government to understand the concerns over the deteriorating staffing crisis in social care, as it is the care home residents who suffer most.’

About 8% of staff are expected to leave their jobs because of the vaccination policy, according to Vic Raynor, chief executive of the National Care Forum, a membership organisation for not-for-profit care home operators.

It was previously suggested staff at Care Quality Commission-registered care homes in England could be redeployed if they did not have the vaccine, but today's deadline means care homes are now unable to employ patient-facing staff who are not double-jabbed.

Organisations representing care homes echoed concerns of a staffing shortage, with National Care Association chair Nadra Ahmed warning that the situation will have a direct impact on the NHS.

‘Ultimately, care providers will need to consider their viability as they operate at limited capacity due to a lack of staff, and we will see home closures, leaving vulnerable people in a challenging support environment,’ she said.

Some healthcare leaders see situation as unsustainble

NHS Confederation, a membership organisation for the healthcare systems of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, also warned of staff shortages. Chief executive Matthew Taylor said a survey of more than 450 leaders across the health service found 90% felt the situation they now faced was ‘unsustainable’.

Today’s vaccination deadline for care home staff comes after the government announced that all NHS nurses and other healthcare staff in England will also be required to have two doses of the vaccine from April 2022.

The decision means all patient-facing staff will be required to have the jab to continue working in their profession in the NHS, unless medically exempt.

Announcing the policy in the House of Commons on 9 November, health and social care secretary Sajid Javid acknowledged it could lead to resignations, but urged NHS staff to make ‘the positive choice’.

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