Care workers could be legally required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under plans being considered by the Health Secretary.
The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said ‘no final decision has yet been made’ amid a review into vaccination passports. The Telegraph reported leaked details of a paper being submitted to the ‘COVID O’ sub committee of the Cabinet, which claims that the Prime Minister and Mr Hancock had agreed to the proposal.
The National Care Association (NCA) said the message should really be about ‘persuasion’ as opposed to ‘compelling' care workers in receiving the vaccine and the NCA highlighted that providers don't currently insist staff receive the flu vaccine.
Nadra Ahmed OBE, Chairman of National Care Association, said, ‘We support the vision that all care staff who can have the vaccine and have access should have the vaccine - however, we are not convinced that compelling them to do so is the correct strategy. We have not insisted that they should take the flu vaccine and our colleagues in the NHS don’t appear to be under the same strategy. We believe that information and access are the key to persuading our dedicated teams to protect themselves against this virus and so fulfil their roles as carers to protect those they care for.’
According to NHS England data, 345,373 out of the 456,909 older adult care home staff eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine have had the first dose up to March 14th. If the law change is voted through, it is likely that the vast majority of the 1.5 million people who work in England's adult social care sector would be legally bound to have a COVID-19 vaccination.
Care England told CMM that the Government must ensure that equal measures are put in place for when care workers receive the second dose of the vaccine, to make sure uptake is high for round two.
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, said, ‘It is for individual care providers to make the decision about whether vaccines should be mandatory or not, but the role of Government must be to make it as easy as possible for everybody in the care sector to have access to a vaccine.’
Tony Stein, Chief Executive of Healthcare Management Solutions, which operates around 80 homes across the UK, said, ‘Whilst I’m somewhat shocked at the news it’s something that the whole sector has been discussing for some time. This is more than a practical issue - it goes to the heart of what we, as healthcare professionals feel is necessary to protect our residents, their loved ones, the NHS and those that can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.
‘Whilst compulsory vaccination is unusual, it is not unprecedented. NHS staff are already required to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B if they are to work on NHS premises.
‘Receiving a jab is not a big ask of people and whilst we have already seen that the vast majority of our workforce have been very happy to receive the vaccination in the fight against this terrible disease, we welcome further moves to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those in our care.’
CMM will be updating this news story with more comments and updates as it happens. If you are a care provider or a decision-maker in the industry and have something to say on this subject, get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) launched its new Housing with Care Grey Paper this week, which features essays and policy recommendations from 14 high-profile authors.