Care boss Niccii Gillett said today she was left ‘heartbroken’ by leaving notes from unvaccinated staff. She said their Surrey home had lost six of 36 employees
No10 was today urged to delay its controversial ‘no jab, no job’ policy for care home workers until April over fears the plans could backfire and kill elderly residents.
From tomorrow, all carers in England must have had two Covid vaccines to keep their jobs or they will be sacked. Estimates suggest up to 60,000 workers will not get the jabs by that deadline.
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, which represents providers in Yorkshire, has called on ministers to push back the deadline to next spring, which is when NHS workers are legally required to have both of their vaccines.
He warned mandating the jabs could kill vulnerable residents because homes would be left with ‘unsafe’ staffing levels.
Niccii Gillett, a care home manager in Surrey, said she was left ‘heartbroken’ by leaving notes from employees who chose to resign rather than get the Covid vaccine.
The 37-year-old revealed they had lost six out of 36 employees at the home she manages in Woking, two of which had been working there for more than seven years. Every letter said they wanted to stay in their jobs.
The plea came after it was announced yesterday that NHS workers will have until April 1 to get their two doses. The Government originally planned to make vaccination mandatory in the health sector this winter but delayed the plans after being there could be a mass exodus. Some 103,000 are still yet to receive one dose.
Mr Padgham told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the delay was needed to help the sector through the winter, and to match the timeline set yesterday for the NHS.
Unions have already claimed hundreds of care homes may be forced to close their doors for good from tomorrow because of staffing shortages. The sector was already short of 100,000 workers before the pandemic struck.
But ministers say the policy will ensure vulnerable residents are ‘properly protected’. A care home near Preston received an award today for getting every staff member double-jabbed against the virus.
Sajid Javid dismissed fears tomorrow’s deadline would cause elderly residents to die, however. The Health Secretary insisted the policy was ‘manageable’ for the sector.
The above graph shows the proportion of staff working in care homes for the over-65s who have received their first and second doses of the vaccine. It reveals that there was no sharp surge in uptake when the jabs were made compulsory
Mike Padgham (left), chair of the Independent Care Group which represents providers in Yorkshire, has called on ministers to push back the deadline to next April in order to match the NHS. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said care home employees had had five months to get the Covid vaccine
The above chart is from the Government assessment of the impact of mandating double-vaccination in the NHS (second column) and in social care (fourth column). It shows the Government expects 38,000 social care workers to leave their roles when it is mandated. But unions say the number will be closer to 60,000
Care bosses have repeatedly pleaded with ministers to delay the vaccine mandate for the sector. It is feared the plans will spark a mass exodus forcing home to limit their beds or close completely.
Some 38,000 social care workers are expected to refuse to get the vaccine and be asked to leave the sector, according to the Government’s estimates.
But unions have suggested as many as 60,000 could lose their jobs when the mandate kicks in.
Sajid Javid defends ‘no jab, no job’ policy for frontline NHS workers despite unions warning of mass staff exodus
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has defended what he claimed was the ‘perfectly reasonable’ no jab no job policy for NHS staff, despite official estimates showing it will only convince one in six unvaccinated NHS workers to get the vaccine.
His defense this morning came as care industry leaders warned the midnight Covid vaccine deadline for their sector will put patient lives at risk.
Some of the 100,000 unvaccinated NHS staff have vowed to leave the health service if Government presses ahead with making being fully vaccinated a condition of deployment in the NHS.
One trainee nurse told MailOnline he’ll quit and become a dog trainer if vaccines are made compulsory for NHS staff by the Government’s April deadline.
But Mr Javid told Radio 4 this morning it was NHS staff’s ‘duty’ to get the jab in order to protect patients.
‘This is all about patient safety, we know vaccines work, we know that they reduce the risk of you being infected, so it reduces the spread of an infection,’ he said.
‘People whether they are in care homes or a hospital bed, they are particularly vulnerable to this virus, it could be fatal.’
‘It is our duty to everything we can to protect them.’
Mr Javid yesterday extended the ‘no jab, no job’ policy to frontline NHS staff — including doctors, nurses, receptionists and cleaners.
But he said it would not come into force until April, after health chiefs urged him not to impose the requirement over the ‘very, very’ difficult winter.
Critics have blasted the plans as neither ‘necessary nor proportionate’, pointing out that more than nine in ten care home workers and NHS staff are already double-jabbed.
But ministers argue that all patients in hospitals or homes deserve to be ‘properly protected’.
Care homes were disproportionately affected by Covid during the pandemic after infected patients were discharged to them from hospital.
Official figures show some 43,000 care home residents have died from the virus since the pandemic began.
Calling for the care home mandate to be delayed, Mr Padgham told the Today programme: ‘I would appeal to them to match the deadline for the health service which it brought in for April.
‘We need that time to get through the winter to make sure we can provide care safely.’
He added: ‘We need to delay it because we want to give people the right level of care and it’s a tough winter ahead, it’s a tough winter for the health service, it’s a tough winter for us, and we need to work together.’
Asked whether the policy would trigger deaths, he said: ‘Yes, I do believe that because I think that it is incredibly important that care homes have the right level of staffing.
‘We just don’t have any answers as to what do we do if we run out of staff? Facilities might have to reduce the number of people they look after or even, in some cases, close.
‘There’s no room to go into hospital, no room in the community, we’ve got the Government who won’t allow temporary visas for staff to come in for social care either, so all roads to try and make things work seem to be blocked.’
Ms Gillett is a manager at just one home of hundreds that is seeing staff leave because of the Covid vaccination mandate.
She said: ‘The sad thing is none of them wanted to leave. And reading their resignation letters was heartbreaking.
‘They’re so grateful for the opportunities and the first one that left, we gave gifts.
‘It was such an emotional afternoon and for days afterwards my residents were heartbroken because they saw this person as one of them, and even a resident, they have said “I wish she could come back, I don’t care that she’s not vaccinated”.’
Of the staff she has lost, she said two are double jabbed but had reactions to the vaccine and are nervous that the Government will make booster jabs mandatory.
The above map shows the five areas where more than one in five care home employees are still yet to get two doses of the Covid vaccine
Miss Gillett said there is anger and frustration among staff who had wished to remain in the jobs, adding: ‘What has really aggravated people is with our residents, everything is about choice, it’s about consent — keywords that are drummed into you as soon as you enter the profession, but that choice has been taken away from my staff.’
Miss Gillett has managed to recruit four full-time staff but is still looking for part-time workers to cover weekend and evening shifts but that her home is ‘one of those luckier ones’.
60,000 more Brits than usual have died at home during pandemic, official data shows
More than 60,000 extra deaths have occurred in private homes since the start of the Covid pandemic, official data shows as experts call for an investigation into the trend.
An Office of National Statistics (ONS) report published today found that there have been 252,486 deaths in private homes between January 2020 and June 2021.
The number of deaths at home in the England and Wales has steadily risen since 2005, with thousands more people choosing to die in the comfort of their home rather than a hospital bed. But the proportion leapt nearly 30 per cent in 2020 compared to the year before, as Britons were told to ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’ when Covid struck.
The ONS data shows there were about 41,000 more at-home deaths from all reasons in 2020 compared to 2019, with the number of people dying at home peaking in May.
However, figures for 2021, which go up to June, show there were nearly 25,000 more deaths at home than the five-year-average for this period, casting doubt over lockdown being the sole reason for the rise.
While Britain was still in its third lockdown at the start of 2021, the Government toned down its ‘stay home’ messaging and the NHS was told to continue treating non-Covid patients.
There has been serious debate over the merit of the lockdowns and if they did more harm than good for the nation’s health with it leading to people avoiding seeking medical help out of fear of the virus and disrupted tests and scans for illnesses such as cancer.
She added: ‘I think there’s a lot of anguish, I think people are really hanging on as long as they can. And I know larger homes are losing a much higher percentage of the workforce and just looking in our local area there’s much advertising going on.
‘It’s constant and it’s not just one or two positions, they’re advertising double figures because it is such an issue in care homes.
When the claim that people might die due to staffing shortages was put to Mr Javid, he denied the policy would trigger deaths.
He said: ‘I think certainly from everything that we’ve seen while this will be challenging for the sector, ultimately it is manageable and will make it a safer place.
‘If we did not have this policy it would mean that you would still have thousands of people that care for people that are very vulnerable that are more likely than otherwise to be infected by this virus.
‘It’s still out there — and they would be passing that on potentially to people that are so vulnerable that it could be fatal. I think that should not be accepted.’
Ministers were criticised when they brought in the policy for failing to publish an impact assessment — which would have laid out plans for managing a staffing crisis.
There were some 76,000 employees in older adult care homes who had not been jabbed when the policy was announced in June.
This has since fallen to 25,000, but care sources say making jabs compulsory had only a ‘little’ effect on uptake because there was no sudden jump in inoculations in the five months leading up to the deadline.
The up to 60,000 unvaccinated employees figure is based on all care homes — including those for younger adults — which were not included in the statistics.
An impact assessment published on plans to get all frontline NHS staff to be double jabbed estimates only 20,000 out of 125,000 unvaccinated employees will be spurred on to get the jab.
It also shows that ministers expect 73,000 not to come forward for the vaccines and by default lose their job. The remaining 30,000 are medically exempt.
Mr Javid said the ‘scales clearly tipped to one side’ in favour of compulsory jabs, but critics say they are unnecessary given that 90 per cent of staff are already fully jabbed and 93 per cent have had their first dose.
But unvaccinated NHS staff have reacted angrily to the policy.
A trainee GP has said she would rather give up her training than get inoculated against the virus.
Dr Reamika West told the BBC: ‘I have not had the jab.
‘I have had Covid so I know that I’ve got excellent immunity from having recently had Covid. I am also happy to be regularly tested if I am going to see patients.
‘It’s just at the end of the day it’s unethical to force anyone to have a medical procedure.
‘If they’re decided for various reasons to not have this medical procedure, it should not be up to the Government to force me to or to say I’m going to lose my job.’