The government’s announcement of a five-week consultation on the introduction of mandatory COVID vaccination in care homes has drawn a mixed response from care leaders and stakeholders.
The National Care Association cautiously welcomed the consultation while voicing surprise that it will not include healthcare colleagues.
Nadra Ahmed OBE. Executive Chairman of National Care Association, said: “Our vision, as responsible providers, would always be to mitigate any and all, risk to our residents and staff and so we welcome the consultation, bearing in mind that our workforce have done an exceptional job since the outset of this pandemic despite the barriers and challenges of PPE shortages, lack of testing capacity, poor vaccine availability until end of January and their own personal anxieties.
“It is disappointing to note that government have singled out care workers despite the fact that our colleagues in the NHS also care for vulnerable citizens in acute settings.”
The Independent Care Group (ICG) stressed its preference for people to take the vaccine voluntarily rather than it being mandatory.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “The government must work harder to persuade everyone to have the injection to help move the country back to normality.
“We must also remember that if it is to be made compulsory in care settings then it must surely be the same in NHS care settings and in other areas too. The question is, where might this stop?”
Mike voiced his concerns that vaccination does not become a barrier to recruitment, a view that was echoed by ADASS President, James Bullion, who said: “We welcome the announcement of the consultation on what is a difficult question for the government and all involved, but it is important that whatever is decided does not adversely impact the staffing numbers needed for safe and high-quality care. We should also think about this question alongside the urgent need to improve the employment deal for care workers.”
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said making jabs mandatory was the “wrong approach” and a “massive distraction”.
By contrast, Nathan Donaldson, employment solicitor at Keystone Law, said: “The consultation from the government on making COVID-19 vaccinations a condition of employment for those in the care sector is a welcome step as it will provide further guidance and hopefully certainty on what an employer can require from its staff.”