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Government urged to apologise to sacked care home staff after vaccine U-turn

By Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs Correspondent

A care sector boss has said the Government must apologise to care home workers who lost their jobs, following its announcement that it plans to scrap the mandatory vaccine requirement for frontline health and care staff.

Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum (NCF), said care homes have been the “unwitting guinea pigs” of the policy and the impact on providers and staff “must not be swept under the carpet”.

Mandatory vaccination for care home staff in England came into force last November.

At the time of the deadline, figures from NHS England showed that at least 42,900 care home staff were not recorded as fully vaccinated.

On Monday, the Government announced its plans to abandon the requirement for health and social care staff, pending a consultation.

Frontline NHS workers and wider social care staff in registered settings had needed to get their first dose by Thursday in order to be double jabbed by April 1.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the Government “makes no apology” for the initial policy but added it is right to review the measure because the Delta variant of Covid-19 has been replaced by the less severe Omicron, and there is greater population protection.

Mr Javid acknowledged that there will always be some who will walk away from their jobs rather than get vaccinated, adding: “We have to consider the impact on the workforce in NHS and social care settings, especially at a time when we already have a shortage of workers and near full employment across the economy.”

Ms Rayner said: “The Government must apologise to the social care staff who have lost their jobs and to the people receiving care and support who have had to watch relationships they cherish being severed abruptly as a direct result of this policy, and to the social care providers who have invested significant time, energy and resources into implementing a chaotic policy that is now considered obsolete.”

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