Fears have been raised over care home recruitment after MPs approved compulsory vaccination for staff in England.
MPs yesterday voted by 319 votes to 246 to back the legislation following a five-week consultation on the plans.
The move was criticised by sector leaders, however, who said the government had failed to carry out studies on its impact on recruitment.
Independent Care Group (ICG) chair, Mike Padgham, said the move was the “wrong approach” and showed a “total lack of understanding of the social care sector”.
“It is also surely wrong to be voting this measure through without producing impact assessments – making a judgement without having all the facts,” Mike added.
“This will without doubt create another barrier to recruitment at a time when social care providers are facing an employment crisis and struggling to fill one shift at a time.”
Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO, Care England, told CHP: “Last night’s debate on the regulations around mandatory vaccination for care homes staff focused on the government’s disregard for process. It is interesting to note that it was predominantly MPs from the Conservative benches who expressed their frustration and preference to debate the regulations once the relevant data was to hand.
“The sector is not against vaccination, quite the reverse, but if mandatory vaccination is the route that the government has decided to take, going against the majority of respondents to the consultation, it needs to ensure that it has the necessary resources in place to support the sector. Care England will be holding a webinar for its members next week to discuss how best we can support them.”
Nadra Ahmed OBE, chairman of the National Care Association, said: “It is bewildering that this government have voted in legislation without presenting an impact assessment to support it. Could this be because they know that the impact could be devastating for the sector?
“Whilst we support vaccinations for all citizens in our nation, this move to single out care homes appears callous. Social care embraces many facets in our support mechanism but this administration has chosen to single out care homes. Health and other social care staff obviously are considered not to be a threat to the vulnerable people they care for.
“We question this move, especially as we see staff recruitment and retention at an all time low. The impact of this on providers will be devastating. An impact assessment would have provided MPs with evidence that this is not the right time to legislate.”
Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the National Care Forum (NCF) – the leading association for not for profit care providers said: “The House of Lords vote scheduled next week will be the final stage in the process for mandating the compulsory vaccination of care home staff in England. This approach raises significant concerns, and NCF have repeatedly raised issues in relation to the timescale and scope in implementation.
“There is a need for government to rapidly scale up their support if the policy is to be enacted in a way that supports the rights of workers and enables as many people as possible to be vaccinated before the regulations are enacted. The ambition for all is maximum vaccination, but all the evidence from our members continues to be that support, information and ease of access are the game changers for increasing take up. It is imperative that we obtain clear guidance from the government, as well as direct support immediately to the sector to make this policy possible to implement.”