Compulsory vaccinations could lead to care staff ‘exodus’
A new poll has revealed that more than a third of carers would consider leaving their jobs in if vaccines were made compulsory.
GMB, the union for social care, said ‘ill thought through’ plans to mandate vaccinations for carers could lead to a staff exodus after finding that around 30% of its members may quit their jobs if forced to have a jab.
Uptake of vaccinations has been on the increase in social care and the Government could do more to address vaccine hesitancy instead of forcing vaccines on workers, the union said.
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said that instead of offering care workers much needed support, the government was “ploughing ahead with plans to strongarm care workers into taking the vaccine without taking seriously the massive blocks these workers still face in getting jabbed”.
“This looks like another potential avoidable mess. We’ve told Ministers that more than a third of our members in social care would consider packing their jobs in if vaccines were mandated. They can’t now say they weren’t warned,” she said.
The concerns come as The Guardian newspaper revealed that ministers will confirm this week that they intend to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for the majority of the 1.5 million people working in social care in England.
It is also reported that plans are in place to make both Covid-19 and flu jabs compulsory for NHS workers involved in direct patient care.
Cabinet minister Liz Truss appeared to confirm in TV interviews the government’s commitment to care worker vaccination.
“It’s incredibly important that staff in care homes are vaccinated,” she told Sky News. “We have got a hugely vulnerable population in our care homes and making sure that staff are vaccinated is a priority.”
Meanwhile The Independent Care Group (ICG) said it feared the policy might discourage people from taking up jobs in social care at a time when there are upwards of 120,000 vacancies.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said that although he understand the thinking behind the decision, compulsory vaccination was likely to deter many from working in the sector and that more could be done to persuade people to have the jab on a voluntary basis.
“I do not like the idea of forcing people to do something against their will and would prefer it to remain a matter of personal choice rather than be compulsory.
“I think the Government hasn’t gone far enough in its efforts to persuade people of the value of the vaccine and is using the blunt instrument of legislation. 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,” he said.
Padgham added that the plans should be extended to healthcare staff and questioned whether it should also apply to flu vaccination.
“We trust it will extend to all healthcare workers, including those taking up NHS posts. And will it become compulsory to have a flu jab in future, as for some people the flu can be a fatal illness?”