Derbyshire care home workers are in talks with bosses after refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 – despite the risk of losing their jobs.
As the government demands staff working in care homes for the elderly get vaccinated by Thursday (11 November) or face losing their jobs, Derbyshire County Council has confirmed it is in talks with 19 employees of council-run homes, who have declined the vaccination.
This represents just over one per cent of the authority’s 1,486 employees who work in care homes for the elderly.
However when privately-run homes are taken into account the figure is higher, as data from NHS England shows out of the total 8,462 care home workers in Derbyshire, 564 had not been vaccinated by October 24.
Referring to the county council workers, a spokesman for the authority said: “We have a small number of employees who continue to decline the vaccine and we are working with them to support them with their options beyond the deadline date at which they will no longer be able to continue to work in a care home.
“We are confident that we can continue to offer high quality care to all our residents after 11 November.”
Community-based nurses and therapists working for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust also need to prove their vaccination status in order to enter homes.
The trust confirmed that of its 5,584 staff members, 97.67 per cent had received one dose of the vaccine, while 96.2 per cent has received two.
Jon Smith, North Derbyshire officer for GMB union, which represents care home workers, said: “Forcing vaccination of our key workers is not the way to address vaccine hesitancy.
“Care is already facing a staffing black hole of 170,000 by the end of the year.
“Even in a best-case scenario we will lose tens of thousands of key workers if the jab is forced on them.
“How will care bosses deal with these huge staffing vacancies.
“How can they reassure people residents will receive safe care?”
He added that in order to address the imminent ‘vacancy crisis’, employers and ministers needed to scrap the vaccination policy, fix poverty sick pay rates and raise pay.
He concluded: “GMB is demanding no less than the £15 an hour that care workers deserve.”