Care homes across England could be forced to close because of staff shortages that have been worsened with today’s (November 11) introduction of mandatory vaccinations for all care home staff.
The latest figures show 32,000 care home workers remained unvaccinated against Covid-19 and leaders of the sector have warned the “inevitable” loss of thousands of staff will exacerbate a care service already suffering from a shortage of some 105,000 workers.
Health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed that all frontline NHS workers in England will also have to be fully vaccinated from April 2022, raising fears of a deepening crisis caused by staff shortages across health and social care services.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said its “responsibility [is] to do everything we can to protect vulnerable people” and added: “We consulted and worked closely with the sector to encourage take-up of the vaccine ahead of the deadline.
“Since the consultation was announced, uptake of the first dose amongst care home staff has risen from 80% to 94%. We are working closely with local authorities and care home providers to ensure there will always be enough staff with the right skills to deliver high-quality care.”
No jab, no job
Mandatory vaccinations means anyone working in a face-to-face role in a care home now has to be double-jabbed against Covid-19, meaning receptionists, janitors, porters and carers who make home visits, as well as frontline staff such as doctors, dentists and nurses, all need two jabs in order to keep their jobs.
Care providers are already experiencing a worker-shortage crisis and according to Adam Purnell, the director of social care at the Institute of Health and Social Care Management said some will be forced to operate at “unsafe staffing levels”.
Purnell has called for toady’s deadline to be pushed back to April, in line with the NHS, and said the care sector is being treated like a “guinea pig”.
Health secretary Javid has admitted he does not know how many of the 32,000 unvaccinated staff (recorded at the end of September) will have got jabbed but hoped the number of workers leaving their roles will “be as low as possible”.
The cost of the vaccination mandate to the NHS, the social care sector and independent health care providers will be between £169 million and £379 million according to government estimates.
8% of care staff could quit over vaccines
Vic Rayner, the chief executive of the National Care Forum says the impact of mandatory vaccinations will make things even more difficult for the sector with warnings that up to 8% of care staff could leave because of mandatory vaccinations.
This will make things very difficult in a lot of care homes across the country, Rayner told BBC Two’s Newsnight, adding that because care homes are also communities – where all types of people come in to entertain residents and provide services such as hairdressing and personal grooming, as well as religious ministers –many more people will have to be vaccinated for the communities to endure.
Commenting on the moral duty of care workers to be vaccinated, Rayner called it one of the “really challenging issues” saying the most effective way to address vaccination hesitancy is giving people the time and space to reach their own decision. The mandatory approach is causing enormous problems to care homes to provide care now, on a day-to-day basis, said Rayner, arguing the moral duty extends to people who are waiting for care or stuck in hospitals because of the lack of services available.
Rayner said the government knew the impact mandatory vaccinations would have on care worker staff numbers yet it has done “absolutely nothing” to help providers address prepare for the anticipated problems.
Record number of people dying at home
The Telegraph is reporting that the number of people dying at home has hit a 20 year high “as patients continue to struggle to access healthcare”.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 85,910 people died at home in the first six months of 2021 – with 21,471 excess deaths in private homes occurring in the same six month period.
Head of mortality analysis at the ONS, Sarah Caul said the pandemic “appears to have an indirect effect” on the number of people dying at home, adding it could be due to a “combination of factors” including disruption to the health service and “people choosing to stay away from healthcare settings or terminally ill people staying at home rather than being admitted to other settings for end-of-life care.”
The ONS data records a total 75,474 excess deaths were registered in private homes from March 7, 2020 to October 29, 2021 – only 12% of these (8,824) “were deaths that included Covid-19,”states the Telegraph. The majority of deaths were from dementia and heart disease.
NHS England figures released today (November 11) show more than 5.8 million patients are waiting for routine surgery – the highest figure since August 2007.
‘Hacked off’ Tory vice-chair quits over sleaze
Elsewhere, the vice-chair of the Conservative party, Andrew Bowie MP has announced his resignation following the Owen Paterson scandal.
Bowie – who has a tiny 843 majority in his West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine constituency in Scotland (having enjoyed an almost 8,000 majority in 2017) – is reported to have become “hacked off” with having to publicly defend the government, despite having voted for the prime minister’s attempt to rewrite the rules governing MP’s conduct.
In the wake of the Paterson debacle and fresh revelations of Tory sleaze, demands are intensifying for former attorney general Geoffrey Cox to quit over his secondary employment.
Video has emerged of Cox carrying out legal work in his Commons office – soon after reports were published stating Cox was voting by proxy in the Commons whilst working for the British Virgin Islands’ government in the Caribbean.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has asked the standards commissioner Kathryn Stone to investigate what Cox’s “brazen beach of rules” by using taxpayer-funded parliamentary facilities to appear in a court hearing virtually.
Rayner said the video of the 61-year-old Cox was “a slap in the face and an insult to British taxpayers” while the Guardian reports criticism from Tory benches with “some newer” Conservative MPs rounding Cox who is “tarnishing the reputation of those of us who don’t have second jobs”.