Care England has written to the Minister of State for Social Care at the Department of Health and Social Care to emphasise the serious and growing concerns at the absence of central guidance and support over vaccination as a condition of employment, particularly around exemptions, the wider consultation, boosters and flu.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says: “We are now under two weeks away from the 16 September, which represents the last date for care home workers to get their first dose so that they are fully vaccinated by the time the regulations come into force. We are yet to receive any clarity as to when we can expect the process or guidance around exemptions to be launched.
“This continued lack of clarity undermines the workability of the policy and only accentuates the current workforce issues within the sector.”
Care England says that guidance for certification of people working in care homes has still not been published.
Compounding the issue, says Care England, is that the policy is exclusive to residential adult social care settings which has continued to undermine the parity between the NHS and social care. Members report that the policy is already impacting the recruitment of staff, creating a two-tier system.
Staff who work in residential care who do not want to be vaccinated are likely to transfer into home care, supported living or the NHS. Care England argues that clarity in relation to when the wider consultation, which will encompass the wider social care sector, the NHS and flu vaccine, needs to be provided as a matter of urgency.
Martin Green continued: “Providers are in the midst of a perfect storm. The sector is operating against a backdrop of a multitude of workforce pressures and this lack of clarity only compounds these issues. We implore the Department to remain transparent with the sector and give it the help that it needs, as after all this is a centrally imposed policy which the sector is now having to manage, largely without central support.”