Great Britain

Care North East raises questions over compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations

A BODY which represents dozens of Teesside care homes has raised questions over moves to make jabs compulsory for its frontline workers. 

Covid vaccinations are set to become mandatory for staff in care homes for older people in England with the move announced by the Government on Wednesday.

But Care North East – which represents almost 250 care homes across the region, including 30 sites across Stockton, Billingham and Redcar and Cleveland – has sounded doubts about what the change would mean for staff. 

Vaccination take up among care staff had been a concern on Teesside earlier this year.

Mythbusting sessions were held across the region in response. 

And figures seen by councillors last month showed less than 5 per cent of care home workers in Stockton had declined jabs for non-medical reasons. 

A consultation on making jabs compulsory for care workers closed last month. 

Care North East said it welcomed any initiative which increased protection for residents and employees.

But the firm believed there needed to be consultation with care home operators about how compulsory jabs would be rolled out. 

A Care North East spokesman said: “Does this mean that a part of the workforce will be forced out of their job? Would it be legal to do so?

“Some members are very concerned that this will put further pressure on our ability to recruit staff, which can be challenging at the best of times.

“The majority of care home staff have received the vaccine, with most of those who haven’t had it having a legitimate reason not to do so. 

“A small proportion of staff are going to lose their income and these clearly will need to have support from the Government to manage.

“Care home staff have worked tirelessly over the past year in incredibly challenging situations and we don’t feel they should be put under any more stress.”

The social care working group of SAGE has advised uptake rates of 80 per cent in staff and 90 per cent in residents in care homes are needed to provide a “minimum level of protection” against further outbreaks.

Statistics from April showed 97.1 per cent of care home residents and 86.4 per cent of staff in the borough had received at least one jab.

Meanwhile, figures up to June 13 showed 70.7 per cent of over 16s in Stockton have now received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Stockton Council leader Cllr Bob Cook said: “The vaccine roll-out is led nationally by the Government and NHS and we support that programme by encouraging vaccination take-up.

“To date, around 90 per cent of staff in the borough’s care homes have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

 “We haven’t received any guidance or instruction from the Government on mandatory vaccinations for staff working in the borough’s care homes.

“But if the government does make that decision, we would of course link up with care providers and work through the detail and implications very carefully.”

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