Thousands of care home staff could be sacked as 'no jab, no job' deadline passes

17 September 2021, 00:19 | Updated: 17 September 2021, 17:42

Health secretary Sajid Javid is overseeing the mandatory jab policy
Health secretary Sajid Javid is overseeing the mandatory jab policy. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Care homes may have to dismiss unvaccinated staff if they did not have their first dose by Thursday.

Potentially thousands in the sector could be sacked due to Covid requirements, ministers have been warned.

Government rules say care staff must be double jabbed by November 11, meaning yesterday was their last chance to get their first dose if they have not been vaccinated against coronavirus yet.

The requirement was brought in to protect residents who could be more vulnerable to Covid.

Read more: Widespread care home closures if 'no jab, no job law' not dropped, Govt warned

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Care providers and unions warned of an exodus of staff, with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham claiming about 2,000 staff could be dismissed in his area.

"It's for different people to make their judgments about the vaccine but I do believe it's very unfair to put people in a position where they have concerns but then have no ability to maintain their job, if they've chosen not to be vaccinated," The Guardian quoted him as saying.

"It is the case also that staff are leaving social care to work in the NHS where there is no such restriction, so it's hard to see the logic of this particular policy when it doesn’t apply more broadly.

"Either it shouldn't apply at all, or it should apply more broadly."

The Government allowed a self-certification process for people who have a medical exemption, such as those who get a severe allergic reaction to the vaccines or had adverse reactions after their first jab.

Pregnant care staff and those with short-term conditions can also apply for a time-limited exemption.

The GMB union said the Government's exemption plans amounted to a "fudge".

NHS England statistics released on Thursday show 93% of staff at care homes for older people have had at least one dose while 85% are fully jabbed.

The largest weekly rise for two months – a 0.8 percentage point rise in uptake of a first dose – was recorded ahead of the deadline on Thursday.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "Temporarily, those who meet the criteria for a medical exemption will be able to self-certify until we introduce a new system.

"This will ensure those with medical exemptions can continue working in care homes.

"Our message is clear: vaccines save lives and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the risk for vulnerable people in care homes."