Care homes were hurled into chaos today after the new ‘no jab, no job’ policy kicked in and forced up to 60,000 staff out of work.
All care home workers in England, including cleaners and receptionists, were legally required to have had both of their Covid vaccines by midnight.
It’s thought that as many as 57,000 failed to hit the deadline, which care bosses say will create dangerous staffing levels that puts residents’ lives at risk.
Unions have warned the move was like ‘taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut’, given that 90 per cent of the workforce was already vaccinated. One facility in Liverpool revealed it had lost seven per cent of its staff overnight.
Business minister Paul Scully defended the mandate, saying care workers had ‘plenty of time’ to book for their vaccines. He urged staff to ‘reconsider’ getting their jabs.
Elsewhere, care managers have shared leaving letters from staff — some with more than a decade’s experience — who were ‘heartbroken’ to go. Some claimed they felt ‘hurt’ to suddenly be labelled ‘an instant danger’ to the residents they have cared for for years.
Surrey-based care boss Niccii Gillett (left) said she had been left ‘heartbroken’ by the leaving letters from unvaccinated staff. Former care worker Ruslana Mironova said she has ended up with a job in Lidl after refusing to get the jab
Helen Ormandy, who runs St Joseph’s care home in Liverpool, said today they had lost about seven per cent of their staff because of the vaccine mandate. But she added they would still be able to operate safely
Pictured: 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 is up to October 31, the latest date available
The above chart is from the Government assessment of the impact of mandating double-vaccination in the NHS (second column) and in social care (fourth column). It shows the Government expects 38,000 social care workers to leave their roles when the mandate comes into force. But unions say the number will be closer to 60,000
One care worker who lost his job after refusing to get the vaccine said he was left feeling ‘abandoned’ and ‘betrayed’ by the decision.
Dave Kelly, 32, who asked not to be pictured, started working at a home in Merseyside to ‘do my bit of good for people’.
He said after signing up at the start of the pandemic a year-and-a-half ago he had only taken three weeks off.
What are the rules for care home staff?
A new law came into force at midnight today requiring anyone working in care homes to have had both doses of the Covid vaccine, unless they are medically exempt.
Care homes managers have the responsibility of ensuring workers are vaccinated, and will have to keep records.
They will face sanctions from the Care Quality Commission if they employ anyone who is unvaccinated. This means staff who cannot provide proof of vaccination were sacked last night.
How many staff are losing their jobs?
Latest data shows around 32,000 care home staff were completely unvaccinated at the start of November. Another 30,000 had yet to receive their second dose but had had their first. Only around 5,000 are thought to be medically exempt. Therefore in total up to 57,000 will be banned from working in homes from today.
What impact is this having on care homes?
It has exacerbated existing staffing shortages and put hundreds of homes on the brink of closure. There were already more than 100,000 vacancies across the social care sector in England before ministers confirmed the controversial ‘no jab, no job’ policy.
Research by the Institute of Health and Social Care Management suggests eight in ten care homes will lose at least one member of staff. Some 43 per cent of homes will lose three or more staff.
They say this will make it hard to care for patients, and mean some will have to be looked after in NHS hospitals instead. Care homes are urging ministers to extend the mandatory jabs deadline until April to bring care homes into line with the NHS.
What are the rules for NHS staff?
From April 1 the compulsory jabs rule will also apply to all staff across the NHS and social care, a total of 2.3 million people in England. Anyone who comes into contact with patients, including volunteers, receptionists and cleaners on top of doctors in nurses, must be fully vaccinated or face losing their jobs.
What does the Government say?
Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday ruled out delaying the mandatory jabs deadline for care home staff until April.
The Department of Health has acknowledged the policy this will trigger a mass exodus from health and social care, but say it is needed to protect vulnerable patients.
The Government’s own impact assessment suggests 126,000 healthcare staff are likely to be sacked next April when the rule is enforced.
He said: ‘I previously worked as a guide over in Asia but now I am sitting in front of gifts and thank you cards from over 40 families I helped this last two years and still take out family members who have lost a loved one in our care.
‘How do I feel today? Let down, abandoned, betrayed, shunned, disbelief, anger, panic that we are the first but won’t be the last, concern that this system will collapse under Tory failures.
‘Most importantly, I feel dread for the millions of people who will now have to live or work in a crippled care sector.’
Mr Kelly said he felt ‘most annoyed’ to have been allowed to work on the front lines with little to no protection initially, but was now considered an ‘instant danger’.
He did not explain why he had decided not to get the Covid jab.
An unvaccinated care worker from Bristol revealed she was now working in Lidl because of the Covid jab mandate.
Ruslana Mironova, 46, had worked at luxury £10million care home Badminton Place in Bristol but resigned as soon as vaccines were made compulsory.
‘I’m very disappointed, it’s very sad [to have left],’ she said.
‘I’ve worked as a carer for 15 years and it is a job that I love. It should be our choice whether to have the vaccination or not.
‘I care about the people I care for, and I’m really disappointed with the Government, not with my managers — they have no choice either.
‘I am not afraid to speak out on this. It’s not fair for the 30,000 carers who have left their job and it’s not fair for the people being cared for — there is already a shortage of carers and NHS staff and now the Government is creating an even bigger problem.’
Ms Mironova said she initially looked for work in the NHS, but found it difficult to explain why she had left the care sector after so many years.
The former carer had got all her traditional jabs, but had steered clear of the Covid shot because it had been ‘made so quickly’.
She was also concerned about potential long-term effects.
A care boss in Liverpool revealed today that she had lost seven per cent of her staff because of the vaccine mandate.
Helen Ormandy, who runs St Joseph’s care home near the city centre, told Sky News these employees would have been helping to bathe and wash residents.
She had worked hard to get them ‘up to date’ information on the vaccines to ‘promote and encourage’ them to get jabbed.
But she added: ‘Ultimately, we do have to accept that decision that they’ve made that is right for them.’
She said that the home was currently still at safe staffing levels, and was recruiting more workers to help plug the gaps.
A care boss revealed yesterday how she had been left ‘heartbroken’ by leaving letters from unvaccinated members of staff.
Niccii Gillett, 37, who manages Elmfield House Residential Home in Woking, Surrey, said they had lost six out of 36 employees because of the mandate. Two had been at the home for more than seven years.
She said: ‘The sad thing is none of them wanted to leave. And reading their resignation letters was heartbreaking.
‘They’re so grateful for the opportunities and the first one that left, we gave gifts.
‘It was such an emotional afternoon and for days afterwards my residents were heartbroken because they saw this person as one of them, and even a resident, they have said “I wish she could come back, I don’t care that she’s not vaccinated”.
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
It comes ahead of all frontline NHS staff being required to get the vaccine from April. Some 100,000 are yet to get vaccinated, figures show. Above are the proportion who have got a first dose (blue line) and second dose (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
Daily Covid cases fall for NINTH day in row
Daily Covid infections in Britain dropped by five per cent today, marking the ninth day in a row cases have trended downwards.
Department of Health bosses posted another 39,329 cases today, a drop of 5 per cent on the 41,299 positive tests recorded last Wednesday.
And deaths and hospitalisations were down week-on-week, with a further 214 fatalities recorded (down 1 per cent) and 823 Covid-infected Britons seeking NHS care (down 7 per cent).
Both measurements lag two to three weeks behind the trend in cases due to a delay between a person catching Covid and becoming severely unwell.
Cases started falling naturally on October 24 — around two and a half weeks ago, before half-term for the majority of schoolchildren in England.
Meanwhile, 79.8 per cent of over-12s across the UK are now double jabbed, while 10.9million people have had a booster injection.
It comes amid a growing row over the Government’s ‘no jab, no job’ policy, with tens of thousands of care home workers facing the sack tomorrow because they are not fully immunised. The same policy will kick in for frontline NHS workers in the spring.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid defended the stance as ‘perfectly reasonable’ and said it will reduce infection rates and protect society’s most vulnerable.
But official projections suggest the rule would only spur on 20,000 of NHS workers to get vaccinated, forcing 70,000 out the door when it gets enforced in April.
Care sector bosses called for the deadline for workers to be pushed to April as well, over concerns the move may kill vulnerable residents because homes would be left with ‘unsafe’ staffing levels.
She said two of the staff that resigned were double-jabbed but had reactions to the vaccine and were nervous they would be asked to get boosters.
She added there was anger and frustration in the home about the redundancies, with choice ‘taken away’ from employees.
Miss Gillett said she had employed four full-time staff members to replace those that had been lost, but was looking for more to cover weekend and evening shifts.
She added: ‘I know larger homes are losing a much higher percentage of the workforce and just looking in our local area there’s much advertising going on.
‘It’s constant and it’s not just one or two positions, they’re advertising double figures because it is such an issue in care homes.’
An unvaccinated mother-of-three in Devon who had been in the care sector for 30 years revealed today that she had also left her post.
Suzanne Cooper, 52, told the Mirror: ‘I’ve never taken a stand against anything but I feel so strongly about it. I don’t think there has been enough testing done on the vaccine.’
The GMB’s national officer, Rachel Harrison, slammed the policy as like ‘taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut’.
She said: ‘It’s cruel and has caused unnecessary heartache and has contributed to care’s potentially catastrophic staffing black hole.
‘Instead of vilifying our care workforce, they deserve to be treated like the trained professionals they are and paid no less than £15 an hour.’
She said a small proportion of unvaccinated staff were remaining in homes until their exemption from the compulsory vaccines had been considered.
Staff can apply for this if they have a medical reason not to be jabbed or had a reaction to the jab until December 23.
The chief executive of the National Care Forum, Vic Rayner, warned the ‘no jab, no job’ policy was leaving people who need care ‘unable to get it’.
She told BBC Breakfast: ‘You are also seeing organisations who are saying, unfortunately, they’re no longer able to provide the care for people they have been doing.’
She added: ‘What it feels like for the care home sector is that we’ve been sort of guinea pigs around the implementation and rollout of this policy.’
Business minister Paul Scully has defended the policy in a round of interviews this morning, telling Sky News they had all been left with 12 weeks to get their jabs.
‘I would hope and expect that those people would have that duty of care to the people they are there to serve and protect,’ he said.
‘Those people, the most vulnerable in our society, the people who are most likely to be hospitalised and, I’m afraid, die of Covid.
‘That’s what that measure has been all about and that’s why we’re determined to make sure that continues.’
He told LBC: ‘I’d hope that people would, if they hadn’t had their vaccination, go back and reconsider and get that vaccination done if they want to continue working with those vulnerable people.’
He added: ‘I think there is little point in having people have care of people who may unfortunately help to transmit the disease and send them to hospital.
‘So it is a slight circular discussion and we want to make sure that people who are receiving care can be as safe as possible.’
More than nine in ten care home workers have received two doses of the Covid vaccine, official figures suggest.
When the policy was first announced in June some 141,000 workers in older adult care homes had not got two doses of the vaccine.
But by October 31, the latest date available, this had fallen to less than 50,000.
These figures do not include workers in younger adult care homes, who will also be required to get two doses of the vaccine.
This has led unions to suggest that up to 60,000 people may still not be double-jabbed and will lose their jobs.
Ministers own estimates suggest some 38,000 workers — or seven per cent of the workforce — likely did not get two doses of the jab before the deadline.