Access and mobility leaders have been voicing their support over yesterday’s UK Government announcement that everyone working in care homes must be fully vaccinated to help better protect residents from death and serious illness, the UK Government has confirmed.

The new legislation would mean that from October – subject to Parliamentary approval and a subsequent 16-week grace period – anyone working in a CQC-registered care home in England for residents requiring nursing or personal care must have two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a medical exemption.

While Karolina Gerlich, CEO of The Care Workers’ Charity expressed concern that compulsory vaccination could cause severe staff shortages “if people feel discriminated against”, many in the mobility and access sector expressed their view that the move was essential for protecting care home residents.

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Graham Collyer, Executive Chairman at Sumed International (UK), a manufacturer of medical equipment and supplies, commented: “Whereas I appreciate that everyone should have the right to choose whether to have the vaccine or not, people living in care homes should have the right to the best protection available.

“Not only should they be fully vaccinated, they should expect all those working in the care home to have had both doses. If care home workers choose not to have them, alternative work should be explored, but in the absence of alternative work, they should understand that they cannot work in a care home environment.”

Neil Davis, Managing Director of Harvest Healthcare Ltd, which provides and services beds, pressure care, bathing, and moving and handling equipment to 1,200 care homes nationwide said: “This is a great initiative from the Government.

“It is our duty as service and equipment suppliers to the healthcare industry to do our best to protect residents, patients and carers, as well as our own staff.  This legislation gives the clarity and legal back-up we need to get it done.”

Steve Kirman, Director of mobility equipment supplier Kings Lynn Mobility Centre Ltd, said: “I completely agree with anyone entering care homes, or for that matter, customers homes, should be fully vaccinated against COVID. Surely it’s just common sense, as with masks and hand gel.”

Graham Billcliffe, Director of mobility equipment supplier Horizon Mobility, believes that all care staff, NHS staff and school staff should be vaccinated as a mandatory requirement. He commented: “The media, both mainstream and social, are drumming up the scare stories that people are losing their rights, yet we all know the vaccination saves lives.

“The majority are in favour. Just a few are more concerned about ‘their right to choose’, not that they will bring a killer into the midst of the fragile. If they do not want the vaccine then they should not be in the caring sector, as they obviously do not care for others.

“Perhaps the best way to get people to take it would be the carrot, not the stick – get £25 per week for six months. It would not be insignificant to a large number and work out cheaper than hospital care and deaths.”

Counsellor David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said that he felt it was “only right” that care workers are treated the same as their NHS counterparts.

He added: “We are pleased that government has listened to our feedback about extending this to the health workforce, as any suggestion of being singled out could have adverse consequences for recruitment and retention of the care workforce.

“Care providers will find this new requirement challenging. The care workforce should also be supported through other measures, such as through increased pay or improved terms and conditions, which could form part of a long-term, sustainable solution for adult social care.”

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