Care boss attacks compulsory jabs plan

'It is absolutely the wrong approach,' says The Fed's Mark Cunningham


A communal welfare chief has attacked the government’s plan to make Covid vaccinations compulsory for care home staff.

“It is absolutely the wrong approach,” warned Mark Cunningham, chief executive of The Fed in Manchester. “The problem is again about treating care homes as a separate part of the health and social care system.”

Mr Cunningham stressed that he wanted all staff to be vaccinated “and we should do what we can to encourage, inform and advise. It is frustrating to see people working in social care who for whatever reason do not believe they should have the vaccine.”

The Fed was proud that only around 15 staff out of 355 had not been vaccinated. The few who had declined had done so for a variety of reasons, “some religious, some believing that it will affect their health and some just because they don’t want it or fear having it”.

Those employees had to undertake weekly PCR tests and daily lateral flow tests before entering the charity’s Heathlands Village.

“All of our residents are vaccinated,” Mr Cunningham pointed out. “So where is the risk?

“We believe most infections have originated from hospital visits or discharges [although this is hard to prove] so the government should focus on this workforce first, or at least make it a level playing field,” he argued.

Although the government had cited that 31 per cent of Covid deaths were in care homes, “this is largely due to the 16,000 people who were not tested prior to discharge from hospital during the pandemic”.

Compulsory vaccinations could result in a loss of staff.

“We may not agree with their perception of the vaccine or their argument not to have it but this situation exists to a greater extent in the NHS,” he claimed.

“Ironically, the staff who may have to leave our employment will potentially go to work for the NHS unless government takes a consistent approach, which I have my doubts they will do.”

Elsewhere, Jewish Care chief executive Daniel Carmel-Brown commented that with the safety of staff and residents paramount, “the announcement that the Covid-19 vaccine will be compulsory for all care home staff helps to ensure that we are able to keep the virus out of our homes.

“We continue to strongly encourage all staff to take up the vaccine and the majority have already done so, with almost 80 per cent having had at least their first dose. We hope that the small remainder of our staff will choose to have their vaccination in the coming weeks.”

In view of the proposed legislation, the charity would need to discover if “new front-line staff have been vaccinated — and if not, whether they intend to be in the coming weeks”.

In a statement, Norwood said that “mandating vaccines as a condition of employment is complex and has implications for recruitment, data protection and compliance with regulations. We are considering the measures we need to take going forward.

“While we await further government guidance on this developing issue, we are continuing to inform and reassure our staff and answer any concerns they may have in confidence.”

The charity reports that 85 per cent of front-line care staff have received a first Covid jab and 74 per cent have had both doses.

Among those supported by Norwood, 98 per cent have had a first vaccine and 91 per cent have received both doses.

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