Following news that COVID-19 vaccinations are to become compulsory for staff working in care homes, care charities are rallying behind their carers’ freedom of choice, saying that it is both an invasion of their staff’s privacy and a fundamental breach of their human rights.
The charities say the PPE that their staff wear is sufficient and fear many colleagues would resign if forced to be vaccinated.
Workers are expected to be given 16 weeks to agree to the vaccination or face being redeployed away from front-line care or could even face losing their job.
Karolina Gerlich, CEO of The Care Workers’ Charity, told Charity Today:
“We cannot discriminate against one part of the social care and health workforce with a policy such as this. It should either be compulsory for all or none, particularly with the set reasoning behind it, protecting people vulnerable to the virus. We are worried that mandatory vaccination will cause staff shortages if people feel discriminated against and want to leave the sector. This move will undoubtedly lead to severe and devastating staff shortages, as many choose to leave the sector with care staff feeling that their views are not being respected or heard.
Unskilled and unimportant
“The government has treated the social care workforce as unskilled and unimportant; this lack of value was shown by the lack of PPE and testing provision early in the pandemic and continues to be demonstrated through chronic underfunding. To add to this, the government immigration policy designated social care workers as low skilled. As a Charity, we believe that the DHSC cannot put professional requirements (such as compulsory vaccines) on care staff when they are not treated as valued professionals.
“In summary, compulsory vaccinations will only serve to alienate further our outstanding social care workforce that, despite their incredible work, feel side-lined, undervalued and ignored.”
Jan Tregelles CEO of the charity Revitalise agrees, she said:
“When the pandemic started, Revitalise took legal advice to know what our employment rights are, and the biggest issue is around the human rights for individuals to choose their own invasive healthcare treatments. The government’s stance on this is completely political and a nod to the impending review of the COVID-19 outbreak. This would be an absolute breach of human rights.”
“Around 30% of our workers are not vaccinated, and around 20% are not doing so for personal reasons. Therefore if the vaccine were to be mandated, we would expect a mass resignation amongst colleagues. The PPE diligently worn by our teams every day is perfectly sufficient and is not an invasion of privacy.”
Kelly Andrews, national care lead of the GMB union and a former care worker, said:
“We should not have forced vaccinations in social care; this is pushing the workforce away from social care in an area that we’re already struggling to recruit and retain.”
In a survey of about 1,000 of its carers, the GMB said, more than a third indicated they would quit their jobs if vaccines were mandated.