Covid jab deadline looms for unjabbed Northumberland care staff

One in 27 Northumberland care home staff have not received a single dose of the coronavirus vaccine, figures reveal, as the deadline for compulsory vaccinations looms.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 12:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 12:31 pm
Chief Pharmacist Richard Harrison with the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

From November 11, care home staff will be required by law to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus to work.

But charity Care England says many of the care providers it represents are concerned about a possible “exodus” of workers across the country this winter, while care workers' union Unison is calling for the jab deadline to be postponed.

NHS England data shows 120 of the 3,259 people working in older adult care homes in Northumberland were yet to receive a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on October 24 – the latest available data.

It means four per cent of care home staff in the area face losing their jobs next week.

A further 233 workers who had received their first dose were still awaiting their second jab as of October 24, the figures show, just over a fortnight before the deadline.

Care staff across England were told to have their first jab by September 16 to meet the November 11 cut-off.

But nationally, around 25,600 people working in older adult care homes, either employed by a provider or agency staff, were unvaccinated by October 24 – six per cent of the workforce.

Some 51,000 were yet to get their second dose of the vaccine.

Professor Martin Green, Care England's chief executive officer, said: "The adult social care sector cannot support the NHS this winter unless it is adequately resourced, staffed and recognised.

"We urge the Government to listen – in Care England’s recent workforce survey, 96 per cent of members have reported that a workforce shortage is their primary concern in winter."

Different figures from charity Skills for Care, estimate that across England 105,000 jobs were vacant on any one day in the adult social care sector in 2020-21 – a vacancy rate of around 6.8 per cent.

This was higher than the level recorded in Northumberland – 5.6 per cent.

Gavin Edwards, Unison's officer for care, said losing more staff during winter risks leaving people needing care with nowhere to turn.

He added: "Employers and unions in social care want to see maximum take-up of the vaccine.

"Jab rates were steadily rising and although the threat of being sacked will have persuaded some staff, it's also prompted many others to leave.

“Ministers should pause the jab deadline until at least the spring, to allow even more to get their jabs. Or better still scrap it altogether."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said they were doing everything they could to protect vulnerable people.

They added: “Our message is clear: vaccines save lives and while staff and residents in care homes have been prioritised and the majority are now vaccinated, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to protect vulnerable people.

“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.”