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Government WILL try to make Covid vaccines COMPULSORY for care home staff, Matt Hancock confirms

Ministers will push for coronavirus vaccines to become mandatory for care home staff in England, Matt Hancock confirmed today.

The Health Secretary argued workers have a ‘duty of care’ to elderly residents, who are most at risk of dying from the disease. 

Mr Hancock claimed industry bosses were united in their calls for a ‘no jab, no job’ policy, insisting good uptake was ‘our route out of this pandemic’.

Critics said any decision to make jabs compulsory would be an ‘incredibly bad idea’. And England’s care chief claimed the sector was still ‘divided’ over the plans, which were first leaked three weeks ago. 

Department of Health officials have now launched a five-week consultation on the proposal, with a final decision expected by July.  

Asked whether care home staff who refuse a vaccine could be sacked, Government sources told MailOnline: ‘Everything is on the table’.

The scheme will only apply to care homes for elderly people and does not include facilities housing younger disabled or vulnerable adults. NHS workers and home carers won’t be subjected to the new rules either

NHS England figures show 78.9 per cent of care home workers are still to come forward for their jab, the equivalent of nearly 100,000.

The Department of Health and Social Care said nearly half of all elderly care homes do not meet vaccination thresholds.

SAGE has said at least 80 per cent of staff and 90 per cent of residents need to be immunised to provide a minimum level of protection against Covid outbreaks. More than a quarter of all Covid deaths have been care home residents.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman previously accepted it would be ‘discriminatory’ to force anyone to be vaccinated. 

Quizzed about mandatory vaccines last November, the PM himself said: ‘That’s not the way we do things in this country’.  

Ministers will try to make coronavirus vaccines compulsory for care home staff, Matt Hancock confirmed today

Britain's Covid jab rollout has been an undoubted success, with more than 32million people given their first dose by April 12. But uptake has been poorer in care home workers. About 100,000 staff in England have not come forward for their jab

Britain’s Covid jab rollout has been an undoubted success, with more than 32million people given their first dose by April 12. But uptake has been poorer in care home workers. About 100,000 staff in England have not come forward for their jab

The scheme will only apply to care homes for elderly people and does not include facilities housing younger disabled or vulnerable adults

The scheme will only apply to care homes for elderly people and does not include facilities housing younger disabled or vulnerable adults

Hesitancy is thought to be high among care staff because many of them are from low income or less educated households or black or ethnic minority communities. All of those groups are known to be more likely to refuse a vaccine. 

The five-week consultation will involve talking with industry leaders, staff and residents about whether the plan is practical and ethical. 

Pete Calveley, CEO of Barchester Healthcare, said the human rights of people living in care homes were at stake and staff must protect them by getting vaccinated against coronavirus

Pete Calveley, CEO of Barchester Healthcare, said the human rights of people living in care homes were at stake and staff must protect them by getting vaccinated against coronavirus

HOW MANY CARE HOME WORKERS HAVE BEEN VACCINATED IN YOUR AREA? 

Nearly half of care home workers have still not taken up the offer of a vaccine in parts of London, while more than nine in ten have had a jab in Blackpool.

NHS England statistics going up to April 4 show some 97,573 care home workers across the country are not vaccinated — more than a fifth of all staff.

The data shows uptake rates vary wildly across the country, with just 457 out of 886 eligible care home workers accepting a first jab in Lambeth — 51.6 per cent of staff.

For comparison, the highest rates in the country were seen in the Isles of Scilly (100 per cent), Blackpool (91 per cent), Shropshire (88.7 per cent), Plymouth (88.1 per cent) and Barnsley (87.8 per cent).

Just over 23,000 care home workers of around 35,000 eligible staff (67.8 per cent) have accepted the offer of a the vaccine in London.

Meanwhile, more than eight in 10 have said yes in the South West (82.4 per cent) and North East and Yorkshire (81.8 per cent).

Bottom 10 areas for uptake among care home workers:

Lambeth

Luton

Wandsworth

Redbridge

Enfield

Manchester

Southwark

Hackney

Havering

Barnet

51.6%

59.0%

60.1%

62.1%

62.4%

62.4%

63.4%

63.7%

64.6%

65.5%

Top 10 areas for uptake among care home workers:

Isles of Scilly

Blackpool

Shropshire

Plymouth

Barnsley

Telford and Wrekin

Rotherham

Darlington

Torbay

Devon

100.0%

91.0%

88.7%

88.1%

87.8%

87.6%

87.1%

86.7%

86.7%

86.3%

It is believed workers who still refuse to get a jab will be redeployed to care homes for younger, less vulnerable residents. 

But the Department of Health has not ruled out terminating contracts where moving them to another facility is not feasible

There are about 461,000 care home staff in England.

Martin Green, chief of Care England, said: ‘We have been really impressed how care providers have worked with their staff to listen to their concerns about the vaccine and this has had a very positive effect with a good take up. 

‘The sector is divided on whether or not vaccination should be mandatory but it is wholly united in its support for the vaccine and has done everything it can to persuade it’s residents and staff to have it.

‘Should the vaccine be mandatory for adult social care staff it begs the question whether it should not be mandatory for the NHS too.’

Others raised concerns that people who have valid reasons not to take the jab would be discriminated against. 

Kelly Andrews, organiser at the GMB workers’ union, said: ‘Mandating vaccination is an incredibly bad idea. 

‘There will undoubtedly be care workers who cannot receive the vaccine due to health or pregnancy reasons, and they will be left outside of the scope of the scheme.’

She claimed many staff on zero hours contracts were refusing the vaccine because they feared missing out on shifts due to mild side effects.

She added: ‘This policy would be the thin end of the wedge and could lead to employers in other sectors demanding the same approach which would have profound consequences for human rights and employment rights.

‘The UK Government needs to get a grip after showing a complete failure to understand the real needs of the sector and its workers. They have been badly let down during this pandemic.’

Staff in care homes in the UK have been able to come forward for a vaccine since the programme launched in December. 

They were considered one of the highest priority groups due to their interactions with elderly and frail residents, who are most likely to die from Covid. 

Phil Booth, from the patient rights group MedConfidential, told MailOnline: ‘If the Government proposes to mandate vaccination only for care home workers, why does it not do so for other carers, or for healthcare workers who will similarly come into contact with the elderly and most vulnerable? 

‘Or is that the plan, but Ministers aren’t telling us? Picking on one group and not another would seem to be driven more by politics and perception than by the science; the virus simply doesn’t care.

‘Far better that everyone is offered vaccination, and that we achieve herd immunity the ethical way – as we do with measles, mumps, rubella, and a host of other diseases – than to proceed down such a divisive, discriminatory, science-free path on the whim of a bunch of politicians who’ve clearly shown they’ve no interest in following the rules themselves.’  

Other care bosses have backed controversial ‘no jab no job’ policies.

Pete Calveley, CEO of Barchester Healthcare, said the human rights of people living in care homes were at stake and staff must protect them. 

The firm was one of the first to announce that it would not hire any new carers who haven’t been vaccinated and all existing staff must get a jab by the end of April. 

Mr Calveley last month said the safety of his residents is a higher priority than people’s personal choice not to have a jab and that he hoped the government would make it the law.

He said the policy has only had a ‘tiny impact’ on the number of people accepting or applying for jobs and said some people had applied because they liked the rule. 

NHS England statistics going up to April 4 show some 97,573 care home workers across the country are not vaccinated — more than a fifth of all staff.

Nearly half of care home workers have still not taken up the offer of a vaccine in parts of London, while more than nine in ten have had a jab in Blackpool. 

The data shows uptake rates vary wildly across the country, with just 457 out of 886 eligible care home workers accepting a first jab in Lambeth — 51.6 per cent of staff.

For comparison, the highest rates in the country were seen in the Isles of Scilly (100 per cent), Blackpool (91 per cent), Shropshire (88.7 per cent), Plymouth (88.1 per cent) and Barnsley (87.8 per cent).

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk