Care home chiefs are divided on whether COVID vaccinations should be mandatory for their workforce.
News that the government is considering legislation to make care staff jabs mandatory has been met with a mixed response.
Dr Pete Calveley, CEO of Barchester Healthcare, which has introduced a ‘no jab, no job’ policy, told the BBC that vaccines should be compulsory for all NHS and social care staff.
Dr Calveley said: “In the end, it is a hugely difficult decision. We have an overriding responsibility and a statutory duty to keep our residents as safe as possible, and that is in law. We also have to understand human rights and we have to understand employment law. But we believe that the risk to our residents and the demonstrable increased risk if you have not had a vaccination trumps all of that.”
The care home provider, along with care home charity, Lillian Faithful, is set to begin piloting technology that will provide proof of vaccination.
Tony Stein, chief executive of Healthcare Management Solutions, earlier this week cited the example of the NHS in support of compulsory vaccination, commenting: “Whilst compulsory vaccination is unusual, it is not unprecedented. NHS staff are already required to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B if they are to work on NHS premises.”
By contract, Independent Care Group Chair, Mike Padgham, has argued that staff jabs while vital must remain voluntary.
Similarly, Jonathan Cunningham MBE, Registered Care Manager of Birkdale Park Nursing Home, said: “The recent announcement that it may become mandatory for care workers to be vaccinated is not something that I support. Whilst the spirit and intent are fully understood to safeguard societies most vulnerable, the thought of a mandated vaccination programme will only serve to shatter the fragile good will of care workers and NHS staff across the UK.
“Many will see this as the last straw after a horrific year. This would only serve to play into the hands of the conspirators, anti-vaxers and all those who still shun the devastation of this terrible virus. We are not a police state that requires to use such approaches but instead we need to engage in conversations to those staff who remain anxious. Equally there are very real circumstances that the taking of the vaccine is not advised on rare health grounds.
“Mandatory vaccination is not the approach the government should be considering. This is a time for recognising our care staff.”