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COVID-19: Vaccinations to be made ‘compulsory’ for care home staff and looked at for NHS workers

Written by on 16 June 2021

The government is to make coronavirus vaccinations compulsory for care home staff who work with elderly and vulnerable people, Whitehall sources say.

Ministers are also considering extending the policy to all NHS staff, a proposal which has previously been criticised by some groups representing nurses and doctors.

The government will open a consultation on Wednesday requiring vaccination as a condition of employment for all health service workers in an attempt to reduce transmission in hospitals, sources add.

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Mandatory care staff jabs ‘under consultation’

The full plans are expected to be formally announced by ministers in the coming days.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and have already saved thousands of lives – with millions of health and care staff vaccinated.

“Our priority is to make sure people in care homes are protected and we launched the consultation to get views on whether and how the government might take forward a new requirement for adult care home providers, looking after older people, to only deploy staff who have had a COVID-19 vaccination or have an appropriate exemption.

“The consultation has ended and we will publish our response in due course.”

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The move would mean compulsory vaccination for most of the 1.5 million people working in social care in England, despite concerns having been previously raised that it could lead to some leaving the profession.

Cabinet minister Liz Truss told Sky News it was “incredibly important” for care home staff to be vaccinated, but wouldn’t confirm the government had decided to make it mandatory.

“We are currently consulting on this issue. What we do know is that it’s incredibly important that staff in care homes are vaccinated,” she said.

“We have got a hugely vulnerable population in our care homes and making sure that staff are vaccinated is a priority.”

Asked what her position would be if she had a parent in a care home, Ms Truss said: “I would want the staff to be vaccinated, of course I would, because I would want my parent to be protected.”

It comes as ministers look to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in care homes and hospitals by staff who are infected as cases of the Delta variant are rising in the community.

There have also been concerns about the uptake of the vaccine from those working in the care sector, with the latest figures suggesting more than 50,000 carers remain unvaccinated.

Some legal experts have previously suggested that compulsory vaccination could be challenged as a breach of European human rights law or equalities legislation.

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Care home workers and families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, have disputed Matt Hancock’s handling of the pandemic.

Under the proposals, care home workers will have 16 weeks to take up the offer of the jab or face losing their roles, reports say.

There have been more than 40,000 deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes in England during the pandemic to date.

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