Today is V Day for Care Homes, V for Vaccines. Tens of thousands of care workers face the sack if they have not had their jabs. It is now illegal in England to employ care workers who are not fully vaccinated. An estimated 50 to 60 thousand people are losing their jobs.
Before we demonise the workers, this still means that across the regions of England between 80% and 95% of the workforce are fully vaccinated compared to 68% for the general population. Many of these care workers are not anti-vaxxers. They are anti-government because of their experience working in social care during the pandemic and do not trust anything it says. And for those who are wavering, research earlier this year suggests that compulsion may be counterproductive and persuade doubters to dig their heels in.
Winter is coming
Management representatives have voiced concern that in an industry already under pressure and plagued with staff shortages, they are having to sack workers at the worst possible time. Winter is coming, bringing increased sickness amongst staff as flu strikes. Covid infections remain high at around 33,000 a day and a daily death toll of around 250.
No Plan B
So care workers will be sacked for not having double jabs. Meanwhile the rest of us do not even have to wear a mask or social distance anymore! COP26 protesters carried placards saying, “There is no Planet B.” When it comes to Covid, this government has no Plan B and Plan A is no plan at all. Rely on the vaccines and blame unvaccinated people for the ongoing crisis.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said:
This is about supporting them to make a positive choice to protect vulnerable people, their colleagues. And of course to protect themselves.
Positive choices? Do this or be sacked! I support the vaccine programme but all previous vaccine programmes have been voluntary. They rely on a high take up, generally 95% to be effective. But they are not mandatory. They are meant to support and strengthen the public health response to disease, not replace it.
And this only applies in England. The rest of the UK is sticking to voluntary vaccinations. So, if you are unvaxxed and living in Carlisle, you can cross the border to work in a care home in Scotland. But an unvaxxed resident of Scotland cannot head south to work in a Carlisle care home.
Double Jabs or Double Standards
Similar regulations for the NHS begin next April. There is no explanation for this difference. Industry insiders suspect that the government knows that implementing Jabs for Jobs in the NHS risks serious staffing shortages this winter. But the same applies to care homes. So why the double standard? Health Secretary Sajid Javid has admitted that making coronavirus vaccines mandatory for care homes will put pressure on the rest of the workforce amid concerns that staff shortages could spiral over winter. And he has no idea how many staff will be lost.
In the first year of the pandemic 7,961 working age people died of Covid.
31 deaths per 100,000 men and 17 deaths per 100,000 women.
For nursing staff the figures were higher: between 80 and 87 deaths per 100,000 men and 25 deaths per 100,000 women.
Turn to care workers and it gets worse. 79 deaths per 100,000 men and 36 deaths per 100,000 women. Most of the social care workforce are women and a quarter of them are over 55, making them more vulnerable to Covid.
The death toll amongst care workers was driven by two factors. Thanks to government incompetence they were last in the queue for PPE, and all they got were paper masks, rubber gloves and plastic aprons. And they were coping with an epidemic in care homes that killed 40,000 residents. This epidemic, remember, happened when old people with Covid were sent back into care homes to take the pressure off the NHS. That wasn’t incompetence. It was corporate manslaughter by the government.
So once again the government shows that it does not care what happens in care homes. Its policy will plunge the sector into crisis at the worst time of the year. And thousands of care workers who went into work with no protection, being exposed to Covid on a daily basis, will be sacked and blamed for the crisis because they ‘chose’ not to be vaccinated, and the government will wash its hands of them. More disgusting behaviour from the disgusting people who have presided over this disaster.
The time is long overdue for the public to start playing the blame game and sack the government.
Life long socialist. Now retired, I have been an office junior, a bookseller, a docker and a teacher. I write a lot and read a lot more. Committed member of the Society of Authors, English PEN and the National Education Union. Uncommitted member of the Labour Party. Will they expel me before my direct debit expires?