Care homes in the Harrogate district have sounded the alarm over a looming recruitment crisis over mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for staff.
Government legislation requiring all care home staff and volunteers to have had both jabs comes into force on November 11.
Most care homes supported the sentiment but expressed concerns about its impact.
The social care sector was experiencing staff shortages pre-pandemic and there are concerns that after a tough couple of years, mandatory vaccines will create another recruitment barrier.
- 350 Harrogate hospital staff not fully vaccinated against covid
- 500 staff at North Yorkshire care homes could leave due to compulsory vaccinations
One care home told Healthwatch it expected to lose staff; another said it had been forced to turn down candidates and a third said it had created a bureaucratic burden on already overstretched staff.
The Coach House Nursing Home in Ripon said in the report:
“I do not agree with making vaccinations mandatory just for those working in a care home, while leaving it entirely open to any friend or relative of a resident to visit without vaccinations.
“This is yet another recruitment hurdle for providers to try to overcome along with the additional administrative burden in policing, enforcing and maintaining records of compliance.
“The impact of this legislation could be huge and widely felt, restricting agreed contractors, maintenance and servicing personnel, along with the effect on the hospitality side of care homes.”
“The concerns we’ve heard from care home managers aren’t a surprise, but some are very stark in their warnings of the impact of mandatory vaccinations.
“Care homes we spoke to question the decision where all healthcare staff and care home visitors don’t have to be vaccinated. There was strong sentiment that this is being seen as further unfair treatment of an undervalued sector.
“There is an irony that while almost all the care homes we spoke to recognise the importance of the vaccinations to protect vulnerable people, the new rules might put residents at risk due to staff shortages and low morale.”
Most acute recruitment crisis ever
The National Care Forum, which is the membership organisation for not-for-profit organisations in the care sector, has today written an open later to the government asking for support with what is describes as the worst job crisis in the sector’s history.
MHA, the UK’s largest charity care provider which has two care homes in Harrogate, is among the signatories of the letter.
The letter said:
“This is the most acute recruitment and retention crisis that we are aware of historically.
“It is the result of many years of underfunding in the sector, compounded by a number of other factors.
“That is including some staff exhausted from the pandemic and others moving to the NHS due to different approaches on mandatory vaccine regulations.”
The NCF called on the government to offer a retention bonus to care staff, welcome staff from overseas and launch a national recruitment campaign.