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Care bosses issue desperate plea for No10 to ditch ‘timebomb’ no jab, no jab policy

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Care bosses have issued a desperate plea for No10 to delay or even ditch its ‘timebomb’ no jab, no job policy to shore up the NHS and help them through the long winter. 

From Thursday all care home workers must have received two doses of the Covid vaccine or face losing their jobs.

Health chiefs warn this risks a mass exodus of up to 60,000 employees — about a tenth of the workforce —, forcing hundreds of homes to limit their bed numbers or close completely. 

Nadra Ahmed, the chair of the National Care Association, today called on Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid to slam the brakes onto the plans to avoid harming society’s most vulnerable.

She told MailOnline: ‘The impact of this legislation will create additional pressures not only for social care provision but close doors to the NHS for options relating to discharge for vulnerable people into social care.

‘It is not too late for the Secretary of State and, indeed, the Prime Minister to halt this legislation in the best interests of the people we care for.

‘We are at the 11th hour, and it is a ticking timebomb. The damage will be far reaching, but even now halting this will help us to get through the winter.’ 

Unions representing workers in the sector are also calling on ministers to pause or even abandon the plans, saying it is still ‘not too late’ and that the heavy-handed approach is likely to do ‘more harm than good’.

Care worker with more than a decade of experience Louise Akester, 36, was made redundant from Alderson House in Hull today after she failed to get vaccinated. In a tearful video she said: ‘That’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do, saying goodbye to everybody, all the people I’ve care for, for so long, the people I’ve worked for.’  

More than nine in ten employees have already got two doses of the Covid vaccine, official figures show. Industry bosses have warned up to 500 homes face being closed down because of the policy, which would leave them without ‘enough staff to operate safely’. There were already more than 100,000 vacancies across the social care sector in England before ministers confirmed the no jab, no job policy.

It comes as ministers consider whether all NHS staff should be required to get two doses of the Covid vaccine, although it seems likely this will not be brought in until April. 

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

Ms Akester, 36, posted the emotional video just minutes after finishing her final shift at Alderson House in Hull

In the video she says: 'I just can't believe what the bloody government is doing to us, I just don't get it, I just don't understand'

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

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

Ms Ahmed said the Association — which represents small and medium care providers — was hearing from councils up and down the country saying they were facing a staffing crisis.

At one outside London she said eight homes had closed in the last five months due to a shortage of employees, while in another in the East of England some 350 employees have already been laid off because they are not fully vaccinated.

Some homes have also stopped taking NHS patients entirely, leaving hospitals unable to free up beds for emergencies. 

She said: ‘The greatest impact of all this will be on the vulnerable people that we care for, who will have an uncertain future.

NHS staff should be forced to have the jab BEFORE winter, says former Health Secretary Matt Hancock 

NHS workers should be forced to get two doses of the Covid vaccine before winter, disgraced former Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today.

Mr Hancock — who quit in June after breaching his own social distancing rules by kissing a married colleague — said the move would act as another ‘tool to save lives’ during what is projected to be a harsh winter for the health service.

He also scorned NHS staff who are still not vaccinated and don’t have a valid medical reason, warning that it was their ‘moral duty’ and that they had ‘ignored all the scientific and clinical advice’.

Ministers have for weeks been considering whether to make Covid jabs compulsory within the health service after pushing through the requirement for care home workers in the summer.

But last week the Health Secretary Sajid Javid appeared to push back the plans until April after being warned by NHS bosses that introducing the policy now could leave hospitals understaffed at a crucial period.

There are also concerns about whether the move is even necessary, given that more than nine in 10 NHS staff are already vaccinated.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hancock, who was Health Secretary for three years, warned ministers against delaying compulsory vaccinations for the sector into the new year.

He said: ‘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.

‘Imagine the cancer patient, already battling another deadly disease, being cared for by a nurse. Who can put their hand on their heart and say they’d be happy to tell that patient their nurse could have the vaccine, but has chosen against all scientific and clinical advice to ignore it.’ Mr Hancock said doctors and nurses had a ‘moral duty’ to get the Covid vaccine to protect their patients.

‘They may well end up in the care of the NHS if other providers are not able to support them.’ 

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘It’s not too late for the government to delay the start of the double-jab rule in care. Or better still ditch it altogether.

‘Ministers were warned this heavy-handed approach would cause more harm than good.

‘Care homes now risk losing so many staff some will no longer be able to stay open. This would mean upheaval and distress for many elderly residents and their families.’

Care home worker Ms Akester is one of thousands that is being made redundant because of the rule.

The employee has been tested for Covid three times a week, worn PPE and followed guidelines since she decided not to get the jab. 

Sobbing in a video taken in her car she said it was ‘unfair’ that workers had to be jabbed while visitors were not required to be inoculated. 

‘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.’

The care worker claimed she was not opposed to being vaccinated but did not want to get the Covid jab until more was known about the long-term side effects. 

She told HullLive last week: ‘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.

‘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,’ Ms Akester 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.’

Officials brought in the ‘no jab, no job’ policy five months ago to protect vulnerable residents and boost uptake of the Covid vaccine.

England’s 1.54million social care workers were prioritised in the roll out, and were among the first to be invited to get their vaccines in December last year. 

But the policy to make jabs for the sector compulsory appears to have backfired, with health leaders warning it could leave many homes so short-staffed that patients are put at risk. 

Estimates suggest some 500 homes could close from November 11, when being double-vaccinated is made compulsory.

Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group, who has worked in the sector for 30 years, said: ‘The deadline for care staff to be double-vaccinated could see up to 500 homes across England having to close their doors because they don’t have enough staff to operate safely.

‘If that happens, it begs the question of where thousands of residents would go, as they can’t go to hospitals and they can’t go to their own homes without care.’

A similar legal requirement for NHS staff to be double-jabbed will only come into force from April.

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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

Professor Martin Green, head of Care England, which represents care homes, claimed yesterday that ministers like to test out controversial policies on social care and treat the service ‘like the child they are irritated with’, while the NHS is ‘the favoured child’. 

It comes as ministers consider whether to make being double-jabbed compulsory for NHS staff, with the measure expected not to be brought in until April.

But disgraced former Health Secretary Matt Hancock today called for the policy to be put in place before Christmas. 

Mr Hancock — who quit in June after breaching his own social distancing rules by kissing a married colleague — said the move would act as another ‘tool to save lives’ during what is projected to be a harsh winter for the health service.

He also scorned NHS staff who are still not vaccinated and don’t have a valid medical reason, warning that it was their ‘moral duty’ and that they had ‘ignored all the scientific and clinical advice’.

Ministers have for weeks been considering whether to make Covid jabs compulsory within the health service after pushing through the requirement for care home workers in the summer.

But last week the Mr Javid appeared to push back the plans until April after being warned by NHS bosses that introducing the policy now could leave hospitals understaffed at a crucial period.

There are also concerns about whether the move is even necessary, given that more than nine in 10 NHS staff are already vaccinated.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hancock, who was Health Secretary for three years, warned ministers against delaying compulsory vaccinations for the sector into the new year.

He said: ‘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.

‘Imagine the cancer patient, already battling another deadly disease, being cared for by a nurse. Who can put their hand on their heart and say they’d be happy to tell that patient their nurse could have the vaccine, but has chosen against all scientific and clinical advice to ignore it.’ Mr Hancock said doctors and nurses had a ‘moral duty’ to get the Covid vaccine to protect their patients.

A SAGE adviser said today it was a ‘general standard of hygiene’ for anyone in a frontline role in contact with vulnerable patients to be double-vaccinated against Covid. But they stopped short of calling for jabs to be made compulsory, saying this should only be done as a ‘last resort’. 

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