Hundreds of carers across the West of England face losing their jobs next month because they have refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19
By Susie Watkins
12th Oct 2021 | Local News
Hundreds of carers across the West of England face losing their jobs next month because they have refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
England's care workers must have had their first dose by September 16 and be double-jabbed by November 11 to continue working in the care sector.
Figures from the NHS capacity tracker – the national system for care homes reporting to the Department of Health and Social Care on the uptake of vaccinations – showed that as of September 16, 1,212 (9.7 per cent) of the West of England's 12,494 carers had not received their first dose.
Some will be medically exempt from the "no jab, no job" policy but Councillor Mike Bell, North Somerset Council's executive member for health, warned it could result in an exodus of staff from the "overburdened and underfunded" care sector.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said unvaccinated carers should "get another job", and he also wants jabs to be mandatory in the NHS to protect the most vulnerable from the virus.
Cllr Bell said: "We have arrived at this situation because the care sector has been overlooked for so long."It has long been a poor relation to the NHS in government eyes, something reinforced in the latest health and social care reforms.
"I want to see the most vulnerable protected, but I fear that the 'no jab, no job' measures will do more harm than good and that we risk an exodus of staff from an already overburdened, overstretched and underfunded sector."
As of September 16, 254 of the 3,287 members of staff (7.7 per cent) in North Somerset's care homes were yet to receive a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination.
A North Somerset Council spokesperson said: "We're pleased with the vaccination uptake for this sector in North Somerset.
"We know that vaccines are safe, effective, and save lives, and for those on the frontline – whether working in social care or in the NHS – vaccination is critical.
The issue of vaccine uptake was most acute in Bristol, where 579 of the 4,238 carers (13.6 per cent) had not been vaccinated by the September 16 cut-off.
A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said all care staff had been offered the vaccination and it had worked with homes to help staff make the decision and now some 93 per cent of care workers have had their first jab.
That puts the city behind Bath and North East Somerset, where 94 per cent of care home staff are now double vaccinated. As of September 16 187 carers were yet to receive their first jab.
Councillor Alison Born, the council's cabinet member for adults, said it was helping homes to recruit more staff and encouraging uptake of the vaccine by raising awareness of the protection it provides so carers can make an informed decision.
In South Gloucestershire, 192 of the 2,910 carers (6.6 per cent) remained unvaccinated by the deadline, best rate for the region.
A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: "We have and continue to work with care providers and staff to encourage uptake of the Covid vaccine programme and to make sure that everyone is aware of the legal duties the Government has put in place.
"We always want to do this sensitively recognising that for some this has been a challenging decision for a variety of reasons.
"It is difficult to make hard and fast rules for circumstances such as these, however it is vital that we act responsibly as a sector to ensure the best Covid security we can, to some of the most vulnerable people who are in care.
"We are supporting care providers, care home operators and their staff, as well as our own staff who qualify, to apply the national policy.
"It is important that we all play our part to ensure that everyone who is required to receives a double dose of the Covid vaccine, which remains the most effective way to protect service users, staff and the community."