Up to a fifth of adult care home staff could be dismissed after the policy to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for them comes into force on 11 November.
This is according to the Outstanding Manager Network, a group sharing good practice in the sector, which wrote to health and social care committee chair Jeremy Hunt last week. The group warned care providers had suggested 10% to 20% of workers could be dismissed because of the policy.
These ‘serious staff shortages’ have left some care providers ‘concerned that they are not even operating at safe levels to do just the basic care’, while others ‘are handing contracts back to local authorities because they simply cannot find the workforce to deliver them,’ the letter said.
Network chairs Jane Brightman and Judith Vernalls wrote: ‘Following eighteen incredibly difficult months many of us are finding our positions extremely challenging and are genuinely concerned about the safety and sustainability of services.
‘There is an acute recruitment crisis, which is harder than it has ever been before. This is shortly about to be made significantly worse with the mandatory vaccines,’ they added.
Ms Brightman and Ms Vernalls also explained that managers are ‘now leaving the sector in high numbers’ because they are ‘exhausted and highly stressed’ with ‘no sign of improvement’.
They added: ‘Due to the lack of suitable staff, existing workers are having to pick up many additional hours and this has not eased with the relaxing of Covid restrictions. There has been no relaxing for social care, and it is untenable.’
Under the upcoming rule, care home staff who are not fully vaccinated will not be allowed to enter the home unless medically exempt. A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told Nursing in Practice in June that these staff ‘may be asked to find alternative employment’.
The policy will apply to all staff directly employed by the home or provider, as well as agency workers or volunteers deployed in the home. Anyone visiting the home to work – such as healthcare workers, tradespeople and hairdressers – must also follow the new regulations.
In addition, the letter raised ‘significant concern’ that ‘there is still no funding agreement of reform in sight’, and asked Mr Hunt to question the Government on its response to the ‘ongoing crisis’.
No strategy has yet been delivered but it has been reported the current Government will publish a plan in the autumn with a long-term solution to fund social care in England adequately.