Sector fears some care staff won't accept jab
Care staff refusing the Covid-19 vaccine won’t be sanctioned by Scotland’s care regulator.
Care groups and home carers have sought reassurance from the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and the Scottish Government over the roll-out, seeking clarity on how to handle staff who either refuse or can’t have the vaccine for medical reasons.
It comes as some private care groups said they wouldn’t hire and would move staff to other roles if they refused to take the vaccine.
Barchester Healthcare, which owns 200 care homes across the UK, said one in 20 of its staff are declining the jab.
The Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) said members are reporting that vaccine refusal is an issue in the sector, a problem fuelled by anti-vax groups targeting care providers and their staff with lies and misinformation.
However charities fear they face a legal minefield if employees refuse the jab with few avenues available in employment law to back any sanctions taken against staff.
A spokeswoman for the SSSC told TFN that while it encouraged all care workers to take the vaccine when offered, those who refused either for medical or supposed ideological grounds would not have their registration affected.
“We encourage all staff to get the vaccine, the more people who get the vaccine the greater the protection will be for all of us,” she said.
“We recognise there may be some reasons or situations when workers are not able to have the vaccine when offered. This will not affect their SSSC registration status.
“Social care workers are among the first to be offered the vaccine and Public Health Scotland has lots of information and resources for workers to find out more about what’s involved in being vaccinated.”
Annie Gunner Logan, director of CCPS, said: "Our members are certainly reporting that vaccine refusal is an issue in the sector – and is not helped in any way by anti-vax groups targeting care providers and their staff with misinformation.
“We would welcome a strong pro-vaccination comms push, specifically for the social care sector, coming directly from government and from the regulator. We’ve asked for this.
“We’re currently supporting members to share their own approaches to promoting and encouraging uptake.”
The Scottish Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that the protection of health and social care staff should be among the first priorities for any Covid vaccination programme.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said that social care staff, including paid carers who are coming into people’s homes to deliver care, represent priority 2 of the risk groups.
“This group will be the focus of the vaccination programme everywhere as soon as all staff and residents in care homes have been inoculated,” they said.