Hundreds of care units may close as 60k staff could face axe if they aren't double jabbed this week


Hundreds of care homes could face closure once it becomes mandatory for staff to be double-jabbed this week, an industry body has warned.

As many as 500 providers may have to shut their doors due to having unsafe staffing levels as unvaccinated workers quit or lose their jobs, it is feared.

This would leave thousands of vulnerable residents needing a new care home place, with the sector already under huge strain.

A total of 60,964 care staff appeared not to have had a second jab, or had it reported, by the end of October, although that will include staff who cannot be vaccinated for valid medical reasons and those whose vaccination status is unknown

A total of 60,964 care staff appeared not to have had a second jab, or had it reported, by the end of October, although that will include staff who cannot be vaccinated for valid medical reasons and those whose vaccination status is unknown 

The Government estimates 40,000 staff will be lost from care homes after this Thursday’s deadline for them to be double-jabbed.

But NHS data suggests there could more than 60,000 who had not had a second dose of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of October.

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.

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’.

As many as 500 providers may have to shut their doors due to having unsafe staffing levels as unvaccinated workers quit or lose their jobs, it is feared

As many as 500 providers may have to shut their doors due to having unsafe staffing levels as unvaccinated workers quit or lose their jobs, it is feared 

A survey of care workers by the union Unison found 97 per cent already say their homes have staff shortages, and around one in three say staffing levels are ‘dangerously low’ and getting worse.

One of the 746 staff surveyed said: ‘The dying aren’t dying with dignity as there’s not enough staff to sit with them in their final hours.’ Another said: ‘Staff morale is very low.

‘Everyone is tired and fed up. Care is awful – no time for nail care, proper washing, or having a chat with the residents.’

Mr Padgham, whose Independent Care Group represents providers in York and North Yorkshire, said: ‘The Government has delayed the deadline for mandatory vaccination in the NHS because the winter is going to be tough, but it will be tough for us too.’

He explained: ‘The services are interconnected, and if there aren’t care homes open, people can’t be discharged from hospital, so the system clogs up and everything gets worse.’

It came as a health chief warned yesterday that health trusts in England are already at ‘peak winter’ levels for bed occupancy early in the season.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told Times Radio: ‘Look at bed occupancy, which is a very good measure of how busy a hospital is – we’re seeing bed occupancy levels, it’s sort of 94, 95, 96 per cent.’

He added: ‘At this point, before we’re into peak winter.

‘We’ve not seen that before. That’s unprecedented.’

Yesterday a health chief warned that heath trusts in England are already at ¿peak winter¿ levels for bed occupancy

Yesterday a health chief warned that heath trusts in England are already at ‘peak winter’ levels for bed occupancy

But a more hopeful note was struck by Susan Hopkins, from the UK Health Security Agency, who was asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday if people would be wearing masks, thinking about social distancing and feeling nervous in future festive seasons.

She said: ‘I think this hopefully will be the last Christmas where we have to think that way. I think we will know much more when we get to the spring.’

A total of 60,964 care staff appeared not to have had a second jab, or had it reported, by the end of October, although that will include staff who cannot be vaccinated for valid medical reasons and those whose vaccination status is unknown.

Many are known to have left the care sector to take less demanding jobs with similar pay in supermarkets, or delivering parcels.

The Daily Mail has long campaigned for reform of the broken social care system.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘We are working to ensure we have the right number of staff with the skills to deliver high-quality care to meet increasing demands, with care homes and home care providers to benefit from a new £162.5million workforce retention and recruitment fund to bolster the dedicated care workforce.’

The Government yesterday said it had invested £250million to modernise diagnostics and help tackle patient waiting lists. 

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