The Government has launched a six-week consultation regarding vaccinations becoming a mandatory condition of employment for frontline workers.
As it stands, staff at registered care homes have already been told they will need to be double jabbed by November 11, unless they are exempt. NHS data reveals that of those staff, 81.7% have had their first dose, and 69.4% are fully vaccinated.
However, some staff members remain unvaccinated against Coronavirus.
When asked about the Government’s proposal to make vaccinations mandatory, the UK Home Care Association said it believes that persuasion will be more effective – rather than compulsion – for increasing uptake:
“Our concern is that vaccination as a condition of deployment will likely result in a substantial loss of the workforce, potentially at least 20 per cent.
“Right now, we are experiencing the most extreme challenges in recruitment and retention in history, at a time of rising demand for home care.
“We feel it’s very important to balance the mitigated risk of infection with the risk of unavailability of care at home for highly dependent older and disabled people.”
Vaccination is just one of multiple measures to protect vulnerable care recipients including use of PPE, regular testing, ventilation and cleaning, it added.
Latest figures from NHS England suggest that 234,873 social care staff, outside of those working in older age care homes, are yet to be vaccinated.
Some 90,109 (17.6%) staff working in care homes for younger adults, or in domiciliary care, have not yet had a first jab or their first jab has not yet been reported.
Three in 10 (152,400 staff) are not doubly vaccinated, the data suggests.
And 144,764 staff (25.1%) working in other settings, such as non-registered providers and those employed by local authorities, have not yet had a first dose or this has not yet been reported.
Just 32.4% in these settings are recorded as having had both vaccine doses, suggesting 389,875 are not yet fully vaccinated.
Updated NHS England data will be published later on Thursday.
The membership body Care England said the delay in publishing the consultation “has heavily impacted recruitment and retention in care homes”.
Chief executive Professor Martin Green said he hopes this will be a “small step towards creating level playing field between NHS and social care” and alleviate some of the workforce pressures due to residential care being “singled out” initially.
He added that there are still unanswered questions about booster jabs and the sector is still waiting for guidance around exemptions, with just a week until care home staff must have had their first dose.
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