Care home chaos commences as up to 60,000 staff sacked overnight 1

Care home chaos commences as up to 60,000 staff sacked overnight

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A care home manager broke down today after being forced to sack six staff members who refused to get vaccinated against Covid — as she pleaded with Boris Johnson to ‘give us a break’. 

Theresa Ingram-Gettins — who runs the Boldmere Court Care Home in Birmingham —  said it was ‘very difficult’ to have to let staff go, knowing that she is sending some of them ‘into poverty’. Ms Ingram-Gettins told how one relative of an elderly resident was left ‘sobbing’ in her arms because her mother’s ‘special’ carer had been let go.

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She claimed England’s controversial new ‘no jab, no job’ policy was ‘affecting people’s mental health’ after it kicked in at midnight and forced up to 60,000 carers out of work.

The care boss added that staff still in employment were now being forced to work extra hours to make up for the vacancies, which was taking a toll on their ‘physical wellbeing’. 

She told Good Morning Britain: ‘We’re tired, we’re worn out, we’ve just come through a pandemic — give us a break Boris.’  

All care home workers in England, including cleaners and receptionists, are now legally required to have had both of their Covid vaccines. Boldmere, which is home to 60 residents, is one of nearly 18,000 care homes affected by the move.

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It’s thought that as many as 57,000 care home staff failed to hit the jab deadline today, which care bosses say will create dangerous staffing levels that puts residents’ lives at risk. The sector was already short of 100,000 workers before the pandemic struck.

Unions have warned that the new rule was like ‘taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut’, given that 90 per cent of the workforce was already vaccinated. One facility in Liverpool revealed that it had lost seven per cent of its staff overnight. 

Nadra Ahmed, chairwoman of the National Care Association, told MailOnline that morale had crashed within the sector this morning as it woke up to tens of thousands of vacancies.

She added: ‘And there are families with very real concerns that care homes just haven’t got enough staff to care for their relatives properly.’ 

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But other care home bosses welcomed the move. Lucy Craig, who operates three residential and dementia sites in Newcastle and Northumberland, lost three staff because of the policy but said being vaccinated is part of the role of caring for residents.

Theresa — who runs a home for the elderly in the Midlands — broke down today after being forced to sack six staff members who refused to get vaccinated

She said it was 'very difficult' to have to let staff go, knowing that she is 'sending them into poverty'

Theresa — who runs a home for the elderly in the Midlands — broke down today after being forced to sack six staff members who refused to get vaccinated

Ms Ingram-Gettins — a manager at the Boldmere Court Care Home in Birmingham — said it was 'very difficult' to have to let staff go, knowing that she is sending some of them 'into poverty'. Boldmere, which is home to 60 residents, is one of nearly 18,000 care homes affected by the move

Ms Ingram-Gettins — a manager at the Boldmere Court Care Home in Birmingham — said it was ‘very difficult’ to have to let staff go, knowing that she is sending some of them ‘into poverty’. Boldmere, which is home to 60 residents, is one of nearly 18,000 care homes affected by the move

Surrey-based care boss Niccii Gillett (left) said she had been left 'heartbroken' by the leaving letters from unvaccinated staff

Ruslana Mironova said there would be staffing crises in the care industry and in the NHS because of the rule

Surrey-based care boss Niccii Gillett (left) said she had been left ‘heartbroken’ by the leaving letters from unvaccinated staff. Former care worker Ruslana Mironova said she has ended up with a job in Lidl after refusing to get the jab

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Helen Ormandy, who runs St Joseph's care home in Liverpool, said today they had lost about seven per cent of their staff because of the vaccine mandate. But she added they would still be able to operate safely

Helen Ormandy, who runs St Joseph’s care home in Liverpool, said today they had lost about seven per cent of their staff because of the vaccine mandate. But she added they would still be able to operate safely

Care home chaos commences as up to 60,000 staff sacked overnight 2

Pictured: The above graph shows the proportion of staff working in care homes for the over-65s who have received their first and second doses of the vaccine. It is up to October 31, the latest date available

The above map shows the five areas where more than one in five care home employees are still yet to get two doses of the Covid vaccine

The above map shows the five areas where more than one in five care home employees are still yet to get two doses of the Covid vaccine

Anita Waterson, 55, who manages the Beechside Residential Care Home in Liverpool, revealed she had to sack five members of staff today because of the new policy.

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She told MailOnline: ‘It’s ridiculous because family don’t have to have the vaccine to come and visit their loved ones, so if you wanted to come in and visit mum or dad you could come in here without the vaccine.

‘If you asked the same to all the care homes in Liverpool, they would likely the say the same thing, they’d rather have more staff.

‘There have been staff that have said straight away that they wouldn’t be getting the vaccine from the off, so we saw it coming.’ 

She said that the new mandate was tearing her workforce apart, who see each other as ‘a family’. 

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‘The sector already has too much pressure on it, this was an unwarranted move,’ she added.

What are the rules for care home staff and NHS workers? 

A new law came into force today requiring anyone working in care homes to have had both doses of the Covid vaccine, unless they are medically exempt. 

Care homes managers have the responsibility of ensuring workers are vaccinated, and will have to keep records. 

They will face sanctions from the Care Quality Commission if they employ anyone who is unvaccinated.

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How many staff are losing their jobs?  

Latest data shows around 32,000 care home staff were completely unvaccinated at the start of November. 

Another 30,000 had yet to receive their second dose but had had their first. 

Only around 5,000 are thought to be medically exempt. Therefore, in total up to 57,000 were banned from working in homes from today.

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What impact is this having on care homes?

It has exacerbated existing staffing shortages and put hundreds of homes on the brink of closure. 

There were already more than 100,000 vacancies across the social care sector in England before ministers confirmed the controversial ‘no jab, no job’ policy.

Research by the Institute of Health and Social Care Management suggests eight in ten care homes will lose at least one member of staff. Some 43 per cent of homes will lose three or more staff. 

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They say this will make it hard to care for patients, and mean some will have to be looked after in NHS hospitals instead. 

Care homes are urging ministers to extend the mandatory jabs deadline until April to bring care homes into line with the NHS.

What are the rules for NHS staff?

From April 1 the compulsory jabs rule will also apply to all staff across the NHS and social care, a total of around 2.3million people in England. 

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Anyone who comes into contact with patients, including volunteers, receptionists and cleaners on top of doctors in nurses, must be fully vaccinated or face losing their jobs.

What does the Government say?

Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday ruled out delaying the mandatory jabs deadline for care home staff until April.

The Department of Health has acknowledged the policy this will trigger a mass exodus from health and social care, but say it is needed to protect vulnerable patients.

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The Government’s own impact assessment suggests 126,000 healthcare staff — across the NHS and social care sector — are likely to be sacked next April when the rule is enforced.

‘We have no support and when topics like this arise, they never get talked about or pushed far enough.’ 

Jak Devlin, 30, an office manager at the  Beechside facility, told MailOnline that he knew of other care homes in the city that had ‘over 14 staff leave’ overnight.

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‘I’ve spoken to a few family members over the past couple of weeks, and they’ve all said the same thing, that they’d rather have a someone looking after their mum and dad who doesn’t have the vaccine, rather than nobody at all.

‘Some staff are working well over 48-hour weeks and some pull full days into full night shifts as they don’t want to leave co-workers to struggle.’

Sharon Scholes, 41, manager of private care home Lumb Valley Care Home in Rossendale, Lancashire, had to sack her unvaccinated cook and fears more staff will depart if boosters are needed in six months.

She said: ‘We’ve lost one lady – a very good cook. She hasn’t had any vaccinations, and unfortunately, we have had to part company, and we’re really upset about it.

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‘She has worked all the way through the pandemic, right from day one.

‘She cooks everything from scratch for 22 residents. She knows them individually. She’s worked all the way through, and she’s really, really trained.

She added: ‘At the minute the booster isn’t mandatory, but I know some of the staff are saying, ‘I’m not having the booster if it comes around every six month or every year – it makes me ill.’

Mrs Scholes said despite the vaccine deadline, the care home was ‘busier than ever’ with a waiting list for people, particular with dementia, to enter the care home.

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She said: ‘Dementia doesn’t go out of fashion, does it? Old age doesn’t go out of fashion?’

Business minister Paul Scully defended the mandate, saying care workers had ‘plenty of time’ to book for their vaccines. He urged staff to ‘reconsider’ getting their jabs. 

Alka Sahnan, 50, manager of the Prince of Wales Nursing Home in Shirley, Birmingham, said it was unfair to sting the care sector with the mandate now but give the NHS until April to get jabbed.

‘Since the new guidelines have come into place, we have had three members of staff who have had to leave their jobs,’ she told MailOnline.

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‘To me, if they were going to bring this new law in, it should have been uniform across the health care system: social care and NHS altogether. As soon as the guidance came in, I know a lot of people went to apply to work for the NHS.

‘Don’t get me wrong, it is good for our residents, it is good to safeguard them – but this policy should have been put in across the board.

‘We used to have space for 20 patients but have recently extended during the covid pandemic – now we have 27 patients. I have been here nearly 15 years, since 2007.

‘After the covid pandemic, we suspected something like this may come into force, we thought ahead and put contingency plans in place and we have made them work – being a small family run home, we all chip in to help.

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‘It is a great team here; we have been working really hard to make sure we are okay. But ultimately, I agree with the decision that the government has made, despite losing three members of staff.’

Claire McNeela, a manager of four years at the Lane House Care Home, in Tamworth, Staffordshire. She said: ‘Me myself, I do not agree with the no jab, no job policy. I was one of the people who was affected by it.

‘I don’t have vaccinations – I rarely have done. I have a lot of allergies, last time I had to have to flu jab I ended up really poorly. So, I was really reluctant to have any type of vaccine, when this policy came in it was really upsetting for myself.

‘I have reluctantly taken the jab so I can stay in the job I love. But I am not happy. On the inoculation form I have written that I am being forced to take the jab, and that I am not taking it off my own free will.

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‘We lost one member of staff this week. It has affected recruitment, big time. I have been trying to get a night staff member for months and I have had no luck.

‘We even tried to replace the girl that we have lost – again nothing. It is ridiculous at the moment, especially when recruitment is at an all-time low.

‘We have 48 members of staff here and 33 patients when we are full, so we would should be okay for the winter months.

‘My company have been supportive and they have been left upset by what is going on.’

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Anne Randall, 51, a care worker of three years at Lane House, added: ‘I too don’t agree with this move by the government.

‘The problem will be recruitment, all over the country we have a shortage of care home workers.

‘When they do want a job, they are not vaccinated because they believe the Covid vaccine could cause fertility issues.

‘This job comes with a lot of stress, we don’t need the added stress of no jab, no job – it is really horrible. I normally love coming into work, but at the minute I dread coming into work.

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‘We families coming into their family members here, which is understandable. But don’t go giving us grief over this, I haven’t seen my grandson, who has cancer, for two years now.

‘It is stressful and upsetting. My argument is that families that come and visit the care home and they don’t have to show us their covid passport or certificates.

‘Joe Bloggs can come and visit and we haven’t got a clue where they have been and who they have seen. We lost a member of staff because she didn’t want her jab – which was her choice. 

Care home chaos commences as up to 60,000 staff sacked overnight 4

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Care home chaos commences as up to 60,000 staff sacked overnight 6

The above chart is from the Government assessment of the impact of mandating double-vaccination in the NHS (second column) and in social care (fourth column). It shows the Government expects 38,000 social care workers to leave their roles when the mandate comes into force. But unions say the number will be closer to 60,000

The above chart is from the Government assessment of the impact of mandating double-vaccination in the NHS (second column) and in social care (fourth column). It shows the Government expects 38,000 social care workers to leave their roles when the mandate comes into force. But unions say the number will be closer to 60,000

Care home chaos commences as up to 60,000 staff sacked overnight 8

It comes ahead of all frontline NHS staff being required to get the vaccine from April. Some 100,000 are yet to get vaccinated, figures show. Above are the proportion who have got a first dose (blue line) and second dose (orange line)

The above map shows the 20 hospital trusts with the lowest proportion of staff fully jabbed in England. The data is up to September 30, the latest available

The above map shows the 20 hospital trusts with the lowest proportion of staff fully jabbed in England. The data is up to September 30, the latest available

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Care home chaos commences as up to 60,000 staff sacked overnight 10

Care home chaos commences as up to 60,000 staff sacked overnight 12

Care home chaos commences as up to 60,000 staff sacked overnight 14

She said two of the staff that resigned were double-jabbed but had reactions to the vaccine and were nervous they would be asked to get boosters.

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She added there was anger and frustration in the home about the redundancies, with choice ‘taken away’ from employees.

Miss Gillett said she had employed four full-time staff members to replace those that had been lost, but was looking for more to cover weekend and evening shifts. 

She added: ‘I know larger homes are losing a much higher percentage of the workforce and just looking in our local area there’s much advertising going on.

‘It’s constant and it’s not just one or two positions, they’re advertising double figures because it is such an issue in care homes.’

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An unvaccinated mother-of-three in Devon who had been in the care sector for 30 years revealed today that she had also left her post.

Suzanne Cooper, 52, told the Mirror: ‘I’ve never taken a stand against anything but I feel so strongly about it. I don’t think there has been enough testing done on the vaccine.’

The GMB’s national officer, Rachel Harrison, slammed the policy as like ‘taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut’.

She said: ‘It’s cruel and has caused unnecessary heartache and has contributed to care’s potentially catastrophic staffing black hole.

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‘Instead of vilifying our care workforce, they deserve to be treated like the trained professionals they are and paid no less than £15 an hour.’

She said a small proportion of unvaccinated staff were remaining in homes until their exemption from the compulsory vaccines had been considered. 

Staff can apply for this if they have a medical reason not to be jabbed or had a reaction to the jab until December 23.

The chief executive of the National Care Forum, Vic Rayner, warned the ‘no jab, no job’ policy was leaving people who need care ‘unable to get it’.

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She told BBC Breakfast: ‘You are also seeing organisations who are saying, unfortunately, they’re no longer able to provide the care for people they have been doing.’

She added: ‘What it feels like for the care home sector is that we’ve been sort of guinea pigs around the implementation and rollout of this policy.’

Business minister Paul Scully has defended the policy in a round of interviews this morning, telling Sky News they had all been left with 12 weeks to get their jabs.

‘I would hope and expect that those people would have that duty of care to the people they are there to serve and protect,’ he said.

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‘Those people, the most vulnerable in our society, the people who are most likely to be hospitalised and, I’m afraid, die of Covid.

‘That’s what that measure has been all about and that’s why we’re determined to make sure that continues.’

He told LBC: ‘I’d hope that people would, if they hadn’t had their vaccination, go back and reconsider and get that vaccination done if they want to continue working with those vulnerable people.’

He added: ‘I think there is little point in having people have care of people who may unfortunately help to transmit the disease and send them to hospital.

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‘So it is a slight circular discussion and we want to make sure that people who are receiving care can be as safe as possible.’ 

More than nine in ten care home workers have received two doses of the Covid vaccine, official figures suggest. 

When the policy was first announced in June some 141,000 workers in older adult care homes had not got two doses of the vaccine.

But by October 31, the latest date available, this had fallen to less than 50,000.

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These figures do not include workers in younger adult care homes, who will also be required to get two doses of the vaccine.

This has led unions to suggest that up to 60,000 people may still not be double-jabbed and will lose their jobs.

Ministers own estimates suggest some 38,000 workers — or seven per cent of the workforce — likely did not get two doses of the jab before the deadline. 

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