Concerns mount after hundreds of North Yorkshire care staff bypass Covid jab

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Public health bosses have warned the shortage of care workers putting residential homes across North Yorkshire under severe strain could be exacerbated if staff opposed to having the Covid-19 vaccinations do not change their minds.

Just days after the deadline for care workers to get their first vaccine so they are fully vaccinated before having both doses becomes mandatory in November for all care home workers in England, it emerged some 431 of the county’s 20,000 care staff were yet to have a jab.

A meeting of the authority’s care scrutiny committee heard while the county’s care sector had been struggling to recruit this year due to fierce competition for people in labour market, the situation had worsened since July, with a 70 per cent drop in social care job applications across the county.

As a result, councillors were told the authority was having to intervene in a number of care homes to keep them staffed.

Richard Webb, the county council’s adult and health services director, said: “We will see some of that 400 leave the care sector because if they are refusing the jab beyond the middle of November they cannot work in the care sector, it would be illegal for them to do so. That doesn’t help when you have got other pressures on.”

The meeting was told while there were 46 care homes in the county with new or ongoing cases, numerous foreign-born care staff had said vowed to leave the UK if they had to have the Covid jab to work.

The Government has forecast that up to 40,000 care workers in the country will not be fully vaccinated by November 11.

Earlier this month UNISON called on ministers to stop “sleepwalking into a disaster” and end the no jab, no job rule for care workers.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Vaccination remains the way out of the pandemic. But coercing and bullying people can never be the right approach.”

However, Mr Webb said the alternatives to the jab, such as the 1,100 people who had died from the virus in the county, did not bear thinking about.

He said: “I think it is understandable that the government wants that form of protection.”

The director said 24 of the council’s care workers who had not had the jab were either facing being redeployed in other roles or losing their jobs.

The authority’s public health executive member Councillor Andrew Lee said some care worker’s resistance to the vaccines was difficult to combat as ultimately it was a matter of personal choice.

He said: “It’s a shame that people are misinformed and are perhaps not getting the right advice, but all we can do is be consistent in our messaging.”