Government health workers vaccine rule: Sheffield care homes boss Nicola Richards fears damage already done
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The Government has announced it is consulting on removing vaccination as a condition of deployment for health and social care staff, because Omicron has replaced Delta as the dominant variant.
But Nicola Richards, managing director of Sheffield based Palms Row Healthcare, which operates two city nursing homes, and who chairs Sheffield Care Association, fears damage has already been done for care homes.
Ms Richards, who also runs the healthcare and recruitment training agency Heritage Oaks Healthcare in the city, said she welcomed the move towards ending the compulsory jabs, as she could not afford to lose people, and neither could the NHS.
She added: “I think we’re incredibly frustrated and sad that we’ve lost staff in November who worked throughout this pandemic without testing, without PPE, without the vaccination in place. For us to have to terminate, like we did, jobs before Christmas, it’s tragic.”
She said it would potentially make it easier to recruit if the rule was being scrapped for social care as well as the NHS.
But she added: “I think the problem we’ve got is we’ve lost staff already. I only lost two staff members. I was quite fortunate, but it was two staff members too many. But I think there has been a loss of confidence in the Government, so I think the staff who have left the sector may not want to return. I think they felt incredibly let down by the decision the Government made ultimately.”
She said the Government needed to look at how it treated social care. She said homes warned the Government they would lose staff, but ministers did not listen to them.
She said they needed to get behind social care, looking after staff and making investment
“They really have been heroes during this pandemic, and that’s what the Government needs – and I mean really needs – to do now,” she added.
Ms Richards said she had received no guidance from the Government, and would welcome her former staff back if they wanted to return. She feels care homes were used as guinea pigs for the NHS.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Sheffield Children NHS Foundation Trust, which run the city’s hospitals, have both been approached for reaction to the move over compulsory vaccines, but have not yet responded.
The Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement that the legal requirement for health and social care staff to be double jabbed was to be removed, subject to consultation and Parliamentary approval.
It said the vast majority of health and care workers were vaccinated but the remainder were urged to get vaccinated as a professional responsibility
It said: “The Government has re-examined the policy as it considers how best to achieve public health and safety with the minimum number of restrictions or requirements on people’s lives. The balance of opportunities and risks of the policy have now changed with the dominance of Omicron. The booster rollout has been successful, and workforce challenges remain.
“While the legal requirement on deployment is set to be revoked, those working in health and social care still have a professional duty to get vaccinated and get boosted now.”