Neil Russell, Chairman of specialist neurological care group, PJ Care, has expressed relief at the revocation of mandatory vaccinations for care staff, but says the policy should have been withdrawn when the sector expressed its opposition.
PJ Care employs more than 580 staff at its care centres in Peterborough and Milton Keynes which provide care for adults with progressive conditions such as young onset dementia and Huntington’s disease and those with acquired brain injuries.
Neil said: “I have mixed feelings about the announcement: I’m delighted that the government has finally seen sense on this ridiculous mandate. However, it has already caused unnecessary and irrevocable damage to a sector that has suffered more than most during the pandemic.
“The revocation is further illustration of how the care sector is regarded as the ‘poor relation’. All of our warnings about the impact mandatory vaccinations would have on the sector’s ability to provide care were ignored: it was only when it threatened staffing levels within the NHS that the government decided to reconsider.
“We lost five per cent of our staff with a combined total of nearly 100 years of experience. There may be one or two who want to return, but some have been so upset by the process that they will likely never work in the care sector again.
“We have spent tens of thousands of pounds not only on recruiting staff to replace those we lost, but on bringing in a mobile vaccination bus to encourage greater take-up, on the paperwork involved in confirming people’s vaccination status and assessing their self-exemption forms.
“To now find out that this has all been for nothing is incredibly frustrating.”
“We have always been in support of the vaccination programme but we can achieve greater protection by ensuring the residents are vaccinated, combined with diligent infection control measures and effective use of PPE. That’s the way we will best protect the vulnerable in all our care facilities.
“What we need now is a serious commitment to improving rates of pay within the sector as petrol and energy costs rise, the National Insurance hike comes in and the cost of living really bites. Much as people might want to work in care or love their job, it still might not be enough to pay their bills.”