An NHS worker who was fired because she refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19 has posted an emotional video after her final shift as up to 60,000 care home staff also face the sack from Thursday.
Louise Akester, 36, had her contract with NHS care home Alderson House, Hull, terminated because of the Government’s requirement for all care workers to get double jabbed from November 11.
All care workers in adult care homes who do not have medical exemptions must have two doses of a Coronavirus vaccine. But in the wider NHS, staff must have their second jab by April next year.
Louise has worked in the care sector for 14 years, but refused to be vaccinated regardless of the new government rule, and sobbed as she was forced to leave her job.
Speaking within minutes of finishing her last shift, Ms Akester sobs as she says in the video: That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, saying goodbye to everybody, all the people that I’ve cared for, for so long, the people I’ve worked with.
‘It’s been so emotional, this is so unfair. I just can’t believe what the bloody government is doing to us, I just don’t get it, I don’t understand.’ She previously said she was refusing to get the vaccine until ‘we know more about the potential long-term side effects’.
Figures suggest some 60,000 care home employees in England — roughly a tenth of the entire workforce — are still yet to turn up for two jabs, and half of these have not even had their first dose. They all face the axe by Thursday.
Louise Akester, 36, pictured, was fired because of government requirements from November 11 that all care workers in adult care homes, who do not have medical exemptions, are double jabbed
Covid vaccines are set to be compulsory for social care workers from November 11. Pictured above is care home worker Louise Akester, 36, from Hull, who made an emotional video as she finished her final shift at Alderson House care home
Although the care worker refused to get vaccinated, as part of her job requirements, she still tested three times a week for Covid, wore PPE equipment and followed ‘all guidelines relating to infection control’.
Ms Akester says the situation is ‘unfair’ because care home residents and their visitors are not required to be vaccinated by the government.
She said she hasn’t ruled getting the vaccine in the future but does not wish to be vaccinated now.
The 36-year-old says she speaks to represent the 40,000 care home workers in England who are to lose their jobs by November 11.
Ms Akester, who worked at Alderson House for three years, last week told HullLive: ‘When I have to leave that building at the end of my final shift knowing that I can no longer return as an employee, all because apparently now I’m not good enough to protect them due to refusing the vaccines.
Around 60,000 unvaccinated care home workers in England face the sack within days when ‘no jab, no job’ policy kicks in
Tens of thousands of care home workers face being sacked within days because they are not fully vaccinated against Covid, unions have warned.
Figures suggest some 60,000 employees in England — roughly a tenth of the entire workforce — are still yet to turn up for two jabs, and half of these have not even had their first dose.
Homes in Manchester, Nottingham, Westminster and Birmingham face the biggest crisis, with around one in five employees still yet to be double-jabbed.
Unions yesterday warned a mass staff exodus could be the ‘final straw’ for the sector, and leave many homes ‘no longer able to operate’.
Some sites in the South West have already stopped taking patients from hospitals, leaving ward beds blocked.
Elderly care home workers are legally required to have had both of their Covid jabs by November 11, next week, to keep working in the sector.
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the measure in June, saying it would help to boost uptake and protect vulnerable residents.
But care home sources have called for the deadline to be delayed, and said making them compulsory has only had ‘a little’ impact on uptake.
‘This choice should be my basic human right. I do not deserve to be punished for saying “no”.’
She added: ‘I genuinely love my job with all my heart, I only earn minimum wage so believe me it isn’t the money keeping me there.’
‘I’ve been swarmed by messages of support and thanks,’ Louise said.
‘They’ve contacted from all over nationally, not just Hull. Some in the Hull area want to meet up in the future and compare notes on our experiences.
‘It’s nice to know I’m not alone, that there’s other people in my shoes. I wish we had something much nicer in common, but it is what it is.’
NHS staff should be forced to have the jab before winter, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock declared today.
Mr Hancock, writing in The Daily Telegraph, warned ministers against delaying mandatory jabs for nurses and doctors.
The Government decided not to make two jabs compulsory for healthcare workers this winter, with the controversial rule not expected to be enforced until April.
Mr Hancock, who was responsible for making vaccines mandatory for care home workers, wrote: ‘Having looked at all the evidence, I am now convinced we must require vaccination for everyone who works not just in social care but the NHS – and get it in place as fast as possible…So as we prepare to a face a difficult winter, let’s use all the tools we have to save lives.’
The government has been warned by NHS industry bodies and Labour frontbenchers that adopting the policy too soon, however, could result in a mass exodus of NHS staff ahead of the winter.
The mandate for vaccinations for all care home staff comes into force on Thursday.
Mr Hancock added: ‘To me the logic is crystal clear.
‘Medicine is founded on science – and the science of the Covid vaccine is comprehensively proven.
‘Mandating the use of the best science isn’t controversial – it’s common sense.
‘There are some people who say this isn’t the way we do things in Britain.
‘But we already mandate vaccination against Hepatitis B for doctors.
‘The British historic precedents for compulsory vaccination go back to the 1850s.’
Mr Hancock’s call comes as official figures showed a fifth of NHS staff in England are still not fully vaccinated against Covid at trusts lagging furthest behind in the rollout.
NHS England statistics show there are still more than 1,000 workers at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust out of its 6,000-strong workforce that are yet to get two doses of the vaccine (79.5 per cent).
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
Some 100,000 NHS workers are yet to get at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, figures show. The above graph shows the percentage that have got their first dose (blue line) and the percentage that have got both doses (orange line)
The above map shows the 20 hospital trusts with the lowest proportion of staff fully jabbed in England. The data is up to September 30, the latest available
At Barts Health NHS Trust in East London there are 4,000 out of 24,000 employees that are yet to be fully jabbed. It is unclear how many were medically-trained frontline staff who interact with patients, and how many were working in office-based roles.
Former Health Secretary has warned ministers against delaying mandatory jabs for nurses and doctors and urged them to make jabs mandatory for NHS staff before winter
However, nationally 89 per cent of NHS employees in England have had both doses of a Covid vaccine.
And figures showed more than 92 per cent of doctors, nurses and administrative staff have already got at least one dose of the vaccine. Uptake was highest in the South West and South East, but lowest in London.
Ministers have been mulling over plans to make it compulsory for all hospital staff to be double-jabbed this winter to give extra layers of protection heading into a tough period for the NHS. The flu jab may also be made compulsory.
But it is believed they have now kicked the can down the road after being warned by unions that this could lead to a wave of resignations when hospitals are likely to be under the most pressure from Covid and other respiratory diseases like flu.
The Government is instead reported to be planning the impose the requirement from April.
In care homes the ‘no jab, no job’ policy has done more harm than good, with figures suggesting some 60,000 employees are to be made redundant next week risking homes being short-staffed. Sources say the policy only had ‘a little’ impact on jab uptake.
NHS England publishes monthly figures on how many staff have got a first and second dose of the Covid vaccine by trust, and the proportion that have been jabbed.
The latest data is for up to September 30, with the next batch not due to be released until next week.
NHS staff were prioritised in the vaccine roll out, and have been able to get their first dose since December last year.
Rounding out top five worst trusts were North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, where 80.2 per cent had got two doses, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust, at 80.3 per cent, and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, at 80.4 per cent.
Uptake was highest in Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust where or 94.8 per cent of staff were double-vaccinated.
It was followed by Dorset County Hospital NHS Trust (94.6 per cent), Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (94.5 per cent), West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (both 94.4 per cent).
Figures showed that of the 20 hospital and mental health trusts with the lowest Covid vaccine uptake, three-quarters were in the capital. The others were all based in the Midlands.
Experts have suggested vaccine hesitancy is higher in the capital and Midlands because they have larger ethnic minority communities, who are generally less likely to get vaccinated.
No hospital trust had reached 100 per cent uptake, but this was to be expected because some staff may be exempt from jabs for medical reasons or because they had a reaction to the first dose.
Separate NHS England data up to October 24, the latest available, shows 89 per cent of doctors, nurses and administrative staff in the health service have got two doses.
For first doses uptake was as high as 92 per cent.
Broken down by regions, London had the lowest uptake, with 16.5 per cent of staff yet to get two doses of the vaccine, followed by the Midlands where 10.2 per cent were yet to be double-jabbed.
For comparison, in the South West which had the highest uptake just 7.4 per cent of employees were yet to get their second jab, and 5 per cent still have not got their first dose.
In the South East, some 7.7 per cent of employees are yet to get two doses, and 5.2 per cent have not got their first dose.
NHS workers won’t face being sacked if they don’t get vaccinated against Covid this winter, it was claimed today despite fears of another wave over the coming months.
Officials have been deliberating over a ‘no jab, no job’ move for NHS staff for months, in a bid to protect the health service this winter.
Ministers have already pressed ahead with the same controversial move for care home workers, who are required to have two doses from November 11 in order to keep their jobs.
Department of Health bosses told MailOnline ‘no final decision’ had been made, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid rumoured to still have reservations about the policy — despite publicly admitting that he was ‘leaning towards’ the mandate.
But a Whitehall insider close to the negotiations claimed the move was a ‘done deal’ and could be formally unveiled as soon as today.
Pressure is growing on Mr Javid to roll out the scheme, however, with one official telling the Telegraph: ‘We had this with the flu jab. We were interested in mandating the flu jab.
‘There was always pushback against it from the NHS. The whole point is that, if you get more people jabbed now from Covid, it is easier for staff.
‘There is an argument that it is one of the best ways to take pressure off staff.’
Critics of the move have called for it to be delayed until April, advice that Mr Javid appears to have heeded, and warned it could leave to a mass exodus of staff from the sector. There are already 100,000 vacancies in the NHS — including more than 4,000 doctors and 18,000 nurses.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, has come out against plans to make jabs compulsory for the sector.
She warned: ‘We do not think that making the Covid vaccine mandatory for doctors is either necessary or proportionate.
‘So if it’s true that the Department of Health is pressing ahead with compulsory vaccination we would be very wary.’
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
She added: ‘While we do think that it is the professional responsibility of doctors to get the jab, when we know that more than 92 per cent of them have already done so, you have to ask why such a heavy-handed approach is being taken.’
Unions are already warning that plans to make Covid jabs compulsory in the social care sector from next week could ‘cripple’ the sector and force some homes to close.
Figures show some 60,000 employees are still not double-vaccinated, with homes in Manchester, Nottingham, Westminster and Birmingham having the lowest jab uptake.
Care sources have called for the deadline to be delayed, and said making the jabs compulsory has only had ‘a little’ impact on uptake anyway.
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced they would seek the requirement in June following a consultation. But health leaders said they were finding talking to staff who were skeptical about jabs was working better than making them compulsory.