FEARS: Compulsory jabs will leave homes short of staff
Jane Nicholson vaccinated on her birthday, Image: Ian Cooper/Teesside Live
Fears compulsory jabs for care home workers will leave some Stockton homes “extremely short” of staff have been sounded ahead of a looming deadline.
Workers in regulated homes will need to be double jabbed by November 11 unless they have an exemption.
But Stockton councillors heard the spacing of covid vaccines will mean those who’ve not yet had their first injection will need to do so before Friday.
Officials from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) told Tuesday’s adult social care and health select committee it would monitor vaccine uptake from November.
And “fixed penalty notices” could be given to providers where staff don’t comply.
Inspector Judith Mackenzie said vaccine uptake would form part of the watchdog’s inspection process – with the potential for “fixed penalty notices” to be given to firms.
“We would look at it as part of the bigger picture,” she added.
Councillors heard there were 91 care workers in the borough who’d declined covid jabs as of July.
And Cllr Luke Frost, ward member for Mandale and Victoria, had concerns about what the policy could mean for staffing.
“I think that, come November 11, we’re going to find ourselves extremely short of social care staff,” he said.
“We already know the retention of staff is very short within the sector – I just think this might push one or two of our care homes or care home services over that threshold.
“This is putting a lot more pressure on services.”
MPs voted to back compulsory vaccinations for care home staff in England in July.
But UNISON has also called for the government to scrap what it called a “draconian no jab, no job policy” over fears thousands of people would lose out on the support they needed.
UNISON regional secretary Clare Williams 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.”
Ann Workman, director of adults and health at Stockton Council, confirmed less than 91 people had now turned down vaccines.
The director also pointed to the presentations given by NHS teams to encourage take up and bust myths among care workers in the borough.
Government officials say care home workers will need to apply for a formal medical exemption subject to approval by a GP or specialist.
In response to concerns, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Over 90% of care home staff have received their first dose of a covid-19 vaccine ahead of the November 11 deadline and we encourage even more staff to get vaccinated to protect their colleagues and those they care for.
“Temporarily, those who meet the criteria for a medical exemption will be able to self-certify until we introduce a new system.
“This will ensure those with medical exemptions can continue working in care homes.”
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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