The care sector faces catastrophic staff shortages unless unvaccinated workers get their Covid shot by midnight tonight or the government abandons its ‘no jab, no job’ policy, Unison has warned today.

Care workers must have their first vaccination today to beat the government’s deadline of 11 November to be double-jabbed or be banned from entering care homes in England. Unison believes mandatory vaccination should be scrapped or thousands of people may lose out on their support.

Unison claims it is receiving reports that multiple care agencies can no longer provide emergency cover. The union says the mandatory jab policy is partly to blame for these firms turning down requests from care homes to supply temporary care workers.

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Everyone that can have the vaccine, should have the vaccine. But the government has persisted with a heavy-handed approach despite warnings from care employers of the dire consequences.   

“This move is damaging a sector already on its knees and undermining trust in the vaccine. If roles can’t be filled, the level and volume of care offered will be reduced. Vaccine-hesitant staff must be offered reassurance and persuasion, not threats and ultimatums.  

“Instead of encouraging much-needed recruitment into care, the government is actively driving experienced staff away. It’s not too late for ministers to admit the error of their ways and bring care back from the precipice.” 

Supported living manager Francis O’Ryan said to Unison: “We just can’t recruit people. No one is coming forward. We can’t even get agency workers to cover staff leave, as they’re struggling too. Agencies exist to provide emergency cover – without that safety net, it’s a real crisis. It’s been tough during the pandemic. Some care workers are suffering from burnout and leaving, others contemplating careers in care can get paid more in supermarkets or fast-food restaurants, in jobs with far fewer responsibilities. The care sector simply can’t afford to lose any more staff.”   

Date published: September 16, 2021

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