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

4 September 2021, 12:02 | Updated: 4 September 2021, 12:21

The government has been warned against upholding its 'no jab, no job' policy
The government has been warned against upholding its 'no jab, no job' policy. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

There will be widespread care home closures unless the "no jab, no job" law is dropped in England, the government has been warned.

Ministers are "sleepwalking" into a disaster, Unison said, and an exodus of care staff has already begun.

The union warned that the controversial compulsory vaccination rule for England was forcing thousands of workers out of the sector ahead of the 16 September deadline to get their first jab or face losing their job.

It added that mandatory coronavirus inoculation has been a "massive distraction" from the job of caring for people and has diverted time and resources away from employers and the government.

Read more: 'Over one in four care home workers oppose forced Covid jabs' - study

Read more: Covid vaccines mandatory for care home staff from 11 November

General secretary Christina McAnea said: "Vaccination remains the way out of the pandemic, but coercing and bullying people can never be the right approach.

"Ministers have been told repeatedly that using force instead of persuasion will fail, but they've not listened and now their ill-considered policy is backfiring.

"The government is sleepwalking into this disaster by not acting. Care is already a broken and underfunded sector that cannot afford to lose any more staff.

"The government must scrap the 'no jab, no job' rule now. Widespread care home closures could be the consequence if they ignore the warnings.

"This would be disastrous for elderly people and those who cannot live without care support."

Read more: National insurance could rise for millions to fund social care reforms

Watch: Dementia carer: 'Though they're alive, you're grieving every day you see them'

On Saturday, chair of the National Care Association Nadra Ahmed told LBC presenter Matt Frei: "The challenge we will face is that we will start to see home closures.

"In home care, we will see contracts being handed back, so people who are reliant on services in their own homes, we won't have the staff to deliver that.

"In care homes, we will start to see them taking fewer people in from the hospitals, which will block the hospital wards with people who could be looked after either at home or in the care service.

"Those things are very real now and very scary for us."

She said care providers under her supervision have no indemnity insurance for Covid and that the government has failed to underwrite it, while costs are also going up.

Asked if she felt like the care sector was being "hung out to dry", Ms Ahmed said: "Asbolutely."

"I think the government has been completely complicit by not looking at an impact assessment before passing this (mandatory vaccinations).

"They need to do something about it, they need to do something about it today to sustain this service, to make sure they put in the short-term fixes they need for funding and everything else, and then look at the long-term plan."