“No jab, no job” policy pushing care sector to “crisis point”
Care providers have appealed for urgent Government action as increasing numbers of care homes experience desperate staff shortages and warn of an imminent “flood” of home closures.
They say the government’s “no jab, no job” policy as well as the end of freedom of movement after Brexit mean that an already small pool of workers is rapidly shrinking.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) is demanding that the Government set up an emergency task force of volunteers straight away “otherwise the social care system will collapse and take NHS care with it”.
The ICG says news of a homecare provider unable to deliver care on the Isle of Wight and one in York earlier this year show that the system is crumbling. Care and nursing homes are struggling to cover shifts and some have closed.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “We really are reaching a crisis point, but the Government continues not to listen.
“It has shown that it can recall Parliament to debate an emergency issue like Afghanistan – well thousands of care providers and those they care for are wondering why they can’t tackle this issue at home, right now.
“Unless we get urgent funding action and the task force we have called for, the provider failures we are already seeing and the many others that are not making headlines will grow into a flood until we cannot properly provide care any more in this country.
“Providers are failing and there is only so much local authorities will be able to do when contracts are handed back or when care and nursing homes close.
“And if social care fails then NHS care will start to fail too, as the two need each other to survive.”
Meanwhile heath secretary Sajid Javid is urging care workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19 ahead of the deadline for compulsory immunisation for those working in the sector.
But there is growing evidence that many workers prefer to leave their jobs rather than have the job.
A care worker agency in Sheffield told The Guardian newspaper that up to 20% of its workers are declining the vaccine.
Nicola Richards, the director of Palms Row Healthcare said there was an “alarming” drop in the number of workers signing up, with many put off by the “no jab, no job” policy.
The Department for Health and Social Care has itself warned that up to 40,000 people could be lost from social care over the vaccination issue.
The ICG has unveiled a three-point plan to prevent a “winter meltdown” due to the crisis in the care of older and vulnerable people.
It calls for:
- Parliament to be recalled urgently to tackle the crisis
- A volunteer army to fill gaps left by the huge recruitment shortage in care
- A financial injection to help providers give staff better terms and conditions.