Split over calls for mandatory care home staff vaccines in Portsmouth

CARE staff in Portsmouth are ‘split’ over proposals to make Covid jabs mandatory in the industry, with some claiming it’s a ‘moral obligation’ and others worried about recruiting workers.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 3:23 pm

The industry is expecting a government announcement to reveal all staff working in care homes for older people in England must have their coronavirus vaccinations, or face losing their job.

If the ruling goes ahead, employees would be given a 16 week window to get the jab.

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Pictured is: Alison Lang, manager, at Cosham Court Nursing Home. Picture: Sarah Standing (101220-9578)

It comes as NHS England data showed 1,097 out of 1,318 eligible care staff in Portsmouth had at least one vaccine by June 6 - or 83.2 per cent.

Alison Lang, manager of Cosham Court Nursing Home, said most of her staff were already vaccinated.

She said: ‘I think because we are working with people who are vulnerable and are a high risk group it can be expected that we should be vaccinated. It’s not just for the safety of the residents but of colleagues too. I think it’s a moral obligation.

‘About 98 per cent of my staff have had the vaccines and a few of them had their second today. It’s a rolling programme as we get new staff and residents in they need to get vaccinated if they haven’t been already.’

The Portsmouth NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Centre at Hamble House based at St James Hospital opened on Monday, February 1. Picture: Sarah Standing (010221-2020)

According to the BBC, consultations are set to begin on a similar rule for other health and care staff.

Although no decision has been made yet on community carers, Marcus Kerridge-McColl, the director of Crescent Community Care in Southsea, said he already had to advise a new employee based on the potential rules.

He said: ‘It’s definitely a split decision. Personally I do think anyone working in the health or social care sector should be vaccinated for their own safety as well as that of clients. But I think that’s going to be off-putting to some people wanting to join the industry.

‘I had someone new start recently and I advised her to get her vaccine as the rules could be changing. She did say she was a bit apprehensive but she got it done. I worry some people won’t have that view and we could end up losing good staff.’

However, Roger Batterbury, from Healthwatch Portsmouth, said the effect of the pandemic on care homes should be remembered.

‘I worry that there does need to be a degree of choice for people but at the same time if the Public Health data shows care home staff need to be vaccinated then the government should go with that,’ he said.

‘We mustn’t forget that at the beginning of the pandemic the deaths from care homes were higher than across the rest of the population, and we do need to protect the most vulnerable in our society.’

In the Hampshire County Council area 12,666 eligible care home workers out of 14,549 have had at least one vaccine - or 87.1 per cent.

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