Social care providers have repeated their concerns over compulsory vaccination for those working in the sector after the government voted in the measure.
From October, anyone working in a Care Quality Commission-registered care home in England must have two vaccine doses unless they have a medical exemption. The House of Commons approved the regulations by 319 votes to 246.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) is concerned about the move, fearing it will discourage people from taking up jobs in social care at a time when there are upwards of 120,000 vacancies.
ICG chair Mike Padgham said: ‘This is totally the wrong approach to this issue and shows a total lack of understanding of the social care sector. It is also surely wrong to be voting this measure through without producing impact assessments – making a judgement without having all the facts
‘Given time and the right message from government, I firmly believe that we could get to the right level of vaccination within social care.
‘But making it compulsory and a condition of employment is not the way forward. It is going to discourage people from joining the sector at a time when we are facing an existential staffing crisis.
‘Forcing people to do something against their will does not sit well with me and I’d prefer it to remain a matter of personal choice rather than be compulsory.
‘I think the government hasn’t gone far enough in its efforts to persuade people of the value of the vaccine and is using the blunt instrument of legislation.
‘This will, without doubt, create another barrier to recruitment at a time when social care providers are facing an employment crisis and struggling to fill one shift at a time.
‘What about those already employed? Are employers going to have to force them to have the injection and dismiss them if they don’t? That can’t be right and will surely open the door for legal challenges.
‘There has been discussion about redeploying those who won’t have the vaccine, but again that isn’t always an option, particularly for smaller operators. This whole thing seems to demonstrate once again a lack of understanding of the social care sector.
‘It isn’t right that it is compulsory for social care staff and not, at this stage, for NHS staff who are similarly working with the most vulnerable people.
‘And where will this end? Is the flu jab also to be made compulsory as that can be similarly debilitating and even fatal for some people?’
Photo Credit – CDC