Thousands of care home staff face losing their jobs today as the deadline for mandatory Covid-19 vaccination passes.
From Thursday 11 November, all care home workers in England are legally required to have been fully jabbed against coronavirus to continue in their rolem, unless they are medically exempt.
50,000 care staff still not fully jabbed
Official NHS figures due this afternoon are expected to show that, as of 7 November, more than 50,000 current care staff have not been recorded as having two vaccine doses.
Of these, several thousand workers are understood to have self-certified as being medically exempt, or have applied for formal proof.
Additionally, of staff not fully vaccinated by 7 November, more than half are thought to have had one vaccine dose.
It is expected that the number of staff double jabbed will have increased in the three days between Sunday and Thursday (7-11 November), but it is still unclear how many workers have already quit over the mandatory requirement.
The number of staff in care homes in England has fallen by more than 4,000 since the deadline to get first doses in mid-September, according to NHS England figures up to the end of October, although this is thought to be due to multiple reasons.
Staff can be redeployed
Care home staff who are still unvaccinated after the 11 November deadline face losing their jobs.
However, care home providers can choose to redeploy staff into non-frontline roles, if these are available, or have the option to put them on paid or unpaid until they have had two vaccine doses.
Care groups were still calling for the deadline to be extended to April next year as late as Wednesday (10 November), saying the “no jab, no job” policy would result in “no staff, no care”.
The rule has already contributed to staff shortages, with some workers quitting in advance of the deadline due to the requirement, while others expect to have worked their last days in care homes this week.
The government has allocated £162.5 million to help address workforce issues and launched a national recruitment campaign last week in a bid to fill more than 100,000 social care vacancies.
Care groups have said the shortages mean some homes are now unable to accept hospital patients ready for discharge, while it is feared remaining staff risk burnout due to increased pressures as winter approaches.
Nadra Ahmed, executive chairwoman of the National Care Association, said: “Taking away our ability to retain experienced staff during the critical winter period shows a lack of understanding about the value of social care for those who access our services.
“The NHS will struggle to discharge out of the acute sector into safe environments where people can be supported at a critical time in their lives.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said it was its “responsibility to do everything we can to protect vulnerable people”.
A spokesman said: “We consulted and worked closely with the sector to encourage take-up of the vaccine ahead of the deadline.
“Since the consultation was announced, uptake of the first dose amongst care home staff has risen from 80% to 94%.
“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.”