Union warns of staff shortages in Northamptonshire care homes as jabs deadline looms

Workers need first jab by Thursday to be ready for government's November cut-off date

By Kevin Nicholls
Friday, 10th September 2021, 4:07 pm
Updated Friday, 10th September 2021, 4:08 pm

Unions are warning Northamptonshire private care homes could lose up to 20 per cent of front line staff as Thursday's vaccination deadline looms.

The government wants all care workers to be fully vaccinated by November 11.

Doses are delivered eight weeks apart, so anybody who has not had their first jab by Thursday (September 16) could not get the second in time.

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Hundreds of Northamptonshire care home staff are still to have a first dose of Covid vaccine

Latest NHS England figures show more than 10 per cent of Northamptonshire's 6,000-plus care home workers had yet to receive a first dose by September 5.

Council chiefs are urging workers to act now and making more no-appointment-necessary vaccination clinics available county-wide.

But union chiefs believe a significant number of members would rather lose their job than have the jab.

Northants Unison branch secretary, Kevin Standishday, said: "Our caseworkers are hearing that some care homes could see up to 20 per cent of staff refusing the vaccine.

“I spoke to a member recently who told me she would rather lose her job and home than have the vaccine.

“As we head into autumn with possibly more Covid and flu cases it’s a crisis waiting to happen. The government announces these things without any proper understanding of what will happen.”

Gary Mitchell, a Unison caseworker in Northampton, revealed that around one-third of calls in the last two weeks have been about the new rules.

He said: “This is a sector which is already stretched.

"Staff have worked right through the pandemic and they are upset that they could now lose their jobs if they don’t have the vaccine.”

Concerns around religious reasons, safety and the impact on future pregnancy have all been widely voiced — although scientists and NHS chiefs insist there is no evidence the vaccine is unsafe.

Care minister Helen Whately told Sky News that care homes had been hit particularly hard by Covid during the pandemic.

More than 300 care home residents in Northamptonshire are known to have died with the virus since April 2020 although the true figure is thought to be much higher since the government stalled on recording data.

She added: "We have very sadly seen many residents in care homes die because they are the most vulnerable. It has to be the right thing to do to give them the best possible protection.

"The reality is that one of the best ways we can protect people living in care homes is through making sure that staff are vaccinated."

■ Care workers still needing a first dose can visit one of the pop-up clinics listed HERE, by booking an appointment online HERE or by calling 119.

Ashely Leduc, Assistant Director of Commissioning and Performance Adults and Wellbeing at West Northamptonshire Council said: “We’d like to once again thank our care home managers and care home workers who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, during exceptional times of pressure.

“You are such an important part of our communities, and we really want you to remain so. Please do prioritise getting your vaccinations.

“We are in regular contact with our care homes so if you do have any concerns about getting the vaccination speak to your registered manager so we can get your questions answered quickly before Thursday.”