Legislation to Mandate Covid Vaccine for Social Care workforce in Care Homes - push the pause button!
17 July 2021
The Care Provider Alliance has written to members of the House of Lords, asking them to ‘push the pause button’ on the legislation to mandate Covid vaccine for Care Home staff which will be in debated in the Lords on 20 July 2021. The letter is published here.
Dear Member of the House of Lords,
As you will be aware the legislation to mandate Covid vaccine for Care Home staff has now passed through the Commons and will be in debated in the Lords on 20th July 2021.
As you know the regret motion has been moved by Baroness Wheeler and been tabled against this Statutory Instrument (SI) titled “Draft Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021”.
On behalf of the Care Provider Alliance which brings together the 10 national associations representing adult social care providers, I am writing to confirm that while we are strongly in favour of vaccination for social care staff and recognise the benefits and the extremely low risks of this, we have concerns. We ask that you carefully consider our concerns and push the pause button on this piece of legislation until you are completely satisfied that you have all the facts before you.
We must acknowledge the success of social care providers to date in supporting their staff to access the vaccine. A large proportion of the services in England now meet the Social Care Working Group of the independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advice that a vaccine uptake rate of 80% in staff and 90% in residents, in each individual care home setting.
You will be aware that 57% of respondents to the consultation were against this legislation, clearly that had no impact on decision makers. It is important to ask why people felt so strongly that this should not be brought in.
We would suggest this is not that the sector is anti-vaccination but they are concerned by the overall impact of losing critical staff as we head into Winter and a lack of clarity about the regulation and operationalisation of this legislation.
Furthermore, all Registered Care Homes across England are now included in the legislation. This was not the criteria of the original consultation which clearly stated Older Adult Residential Care Homes.
It is important to note that we believe that the vaccine is a critical part of the nation’s fight against Covid, but it is not the only one, as being fully vaccinated does not stop you from contracting and/or passing on the virus. Precaution is always better than cure as is persuasion rather than compulsion.
- We are all aware that the main issue about vaccine hesitancy rests in London which skews the figure used by government. Surely it would be more effective to concentrate on the problem areas rather than create a more substantive issue across the country by bringing this in.
- The sector faces 112,000 vacancies currently, if the 5%, who may eventually choose not to have the vaccine, leave the sector and are added to the current vacancies it will completely destabilise an already fragile sector. How will we address these challenges if providers cannot maintain safe levels of support for their services? The unintended consequence of this proposed legislation has not been fully considered. It is the vulnerable who will suffer the consequences. The recruitment challenge is greater than it has ever been in social care currently.
- Why did the initial consultation exclude Healthcare colleagues. Whilst social care employers will have to rapidly amend contracts of employment. This may cause rise to claims against social care organisations, notice payments and a rise in exits from the sector straight into our NHS where this is not currently mandatory, and is unlikely to be imposed based upon the challenge from unions representing their workforce.
- The government has done little to protect Social Care against any Covid related claims, which leave providers completely exposed to unfair dismissal claims should this become a condition of employment. It should be noted that we cannot ‘re-deploy’ staff within our services so the term is meaningless for us and could not be used as a defence in any tribunal.
- This is a sector that cares for the most vulnerable, employing more staff than our sister organisations. The need for social care is projected to increase with a need for an additional 500,000 in the next decade. Where are these staff going to come from with all access routes to care are being hampered or closed?
- Those who are seeking employment are not rushing to the care sectors’ door. The causes may be well documented, but little attempt has been made to address them. We face exhaustion and fatigue just like our health colleagues, but no attempt has been made to recognise them unlike their colleagues in healthcare or other nations.
With all of this in mind we ask:
- What will the real impact be on an already fragile sector of this legislation?(A sector already facing a major recruitment crisis in the midst of a pandemic.)
- Why has the government not presented the Impact Assessment to support the need for the legislation at this time?
- How could the Lords debate on such a critical piece of legislation without all the relevant operationalisation process being presented by the Ministerial team?
- Finally we ask for your support with this Motion of Regret.
If you can push the pause button on this poorly thought-out attempt to challenge the employment rights of 1.52 million individuals who have shown nothing but dedication to the people they support.
Our workforce continue to be undervalued by comments of being ‘unskilled’ whilst supporting the most vulnerable people in their care with clinical tasks when all the primary services closed their doors.
We feel that at this juncture we have not fully explored all the options to persuade and educate our workforce: individual services report 85%+ are doubly vaccinated already.
The risk of compulsion will undoubtedly be a retrograde step to the hours of support providers have dedicated to supporting their teams to accept the vaccine very successfully over the past 6 months, since it became freely available.
Care provider Alliance is asking you, as Lords to debate this critical issue for social care.
We believe that:
- You do not have the Impact Assessment of the consequences of the legislation before you.
- Not enough time has been allowed for our dedicated workforce to be educated and offered the clinical knowledge to make a positive choice to have the vaccination.
- The consultation itself had a 57% negative sector response to mandating the vaccine so how can it go through unchallenged.
- We have no plan to overcome the challenges of recruitment and retention ahead of another complex Winter period should this legislation be approved.
- There are no guarantees that fully vaccinated individuals will not be able to contract or pass this virus on.
- Any legislation will need to be underwritten by government to protect social care employers from tribunals.
We hope that this has been helpful to outline concerns. We are happy to individually brief you if you so wish. This can be arranged by our team so please do not hesitate to contact us for any points of clarification or further debate should you so wish.
Chair, Care Provider Alliance
CPA Member Associations§
Alex Fox, Chief Executive Officer, Shared Lives Plus
Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive Officer, Association of Mental Health Providers
Michael Voges, Chief Executive Officer, Associated Retirement Communities Operators
Prof. Martin Green, Chief Executive Officer, Care England
Vic Rayner, Executive Director, National Care Forum
Jane Townson, Chief Executive Officer, UK Homecare Assocaition
Dr Rhidian Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, Voluntary Organisations Disability Group
Nadra Ahmed, Chair, National Care Association
Clive Parry, England Director, Association for Real Change, England
Ian Turner, Exceutive Chair, Registered Nursing Home Association
About the CPA§
The Care Provider Alliance (CPA) brings together the 10 main national associations, which represent independent and voluntary adult social care providers in England. We work to represent the sector and ensure a coordinated response to the major issues that affect it.
The CPA bring together the ten national associations, which represent private, voluntary and community sector providers. We speak for the whole of the adult social care sector including care homes, home care services, Shared Lives schemes and retirement communities.
CPA members cover almost 10,000 organisations, employ over 600,000 staff and support an estimated 1 million people.
For more information on the Care Provider Alliance visit About us
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