Care home staff crisis averted in Liverpool borough ahead of COVID-19 jab deadline

Halton had faced losing up to a quarter of its care home staff due to government vaccine policy.
Halton now have just 13 care home staff who don’t yet meet COVID-19 protocolsHalton now have just 13 care home staff who don’t yet meet COVID-19 protocols
Halton now have just 13 care home staff who don’t yet meet COVID-19 protocols

A crisis in Halton’s care home sector looks to have been narrowly averted after a surge in COVID-19 vaccinations meant more staff will be allowed to keep their jobs.

It was reported in September how almost a quarter of the borough’s entire care home workforce faced the axe by 11 November as they had not complied with a Government mandate requiring them to be double jabbed.

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This could have meant the loss of 200 out of 942 workers, and the reduction of 180 beds for the elderly and vulnerable due to lack of staff.

But with Thursday’s deadline looming, a surge in vaccinations has seen those numbers reduce dramatically.

According to the council’s most recent figures, only 13 care home workers are yet to be double jabbed.

Two of those are on maternity leave and one is scheduled for their second jab shortly after the deadline, with arrangements being made to ensure they keep their job in the meantime.

Halton council’s response to potential crisis

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Cllr Joan Lowe, the council’s portfolio holder for adult social care, said: “Following the government announcement, urgent action was needed across all care homes with less than full staff uptake of the vaccine to mitigate the potential risks to the delivery of care.

“The council has been pro-active in trying to overcome vaccine hesitancy and has been working with those homes with low uptake, meeting with staff to support them in getting vaccinated.

“Work is ongoing and plans are in place to minimise risk to service delivery within those homes.”

Controversy over Government guidelines

The national requirement for staff to be vaccinated has proven divisive, with the Government saying the measures are ‘vital to protect the most vulnerable’.

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But the UNISON union said the sector – which is already facing a national staffing crisis – was ‘sleepwalking into a disaster’ and urged ministers to scrap the policy.

Cllr Lowe added: “ The council continues to encourage higher levels of uptake and to ensure that providers accurately and regularly report the vaccination status of their staff.

“The numbers change daily and we are pleased that we currently have only very few care home staff still to be vaccinated, but work is continuing.”

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