Home care sector has lost over 17,500 workers since September

The number of home care staff working in England has fallen by more than 17,500 since September, NHS England data reveals.

Some 406,365 domiciliary care staff were working in registered care settings (other than care homes) in the week ending January 30 – that’s a loss of 17,664 staff – when compared to w/e September 12 (which had 424,029 workers).

The number of home care workers working in the country were reported by care providers and councils.

Low pay and staff burnout due to the Covid-19 pandemic are among the factors that have contributed to a reduction in the country’s home care workers.

Mandatory vaccine concerns amongst unvaccinated staff have also prompted workers to quit the care sector.

Health secretary Sajid Javid recently announced he was ditching the government’s mandatory vaccine requirement for home care workers and NHS staff – pending a consultation. The mandate, requiring these workers to be double-jabbed with a Covid vaccine, was due to come into force on 1 April.

In his announcement on 31 January, Mr Javid said: “I am announcing that we will launch a consultation on ending Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment in health and all social care settings.

“I have always been clear that our rules must remain proportionate and balanced – and of course, should we see another dramatic change in the virus, it would be responsible to review this policy again.”

In a letter to home care providers, dated 2 February, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told home care providers that they are advised not to serve notice on unvaccinated employees, in connection with the Vaccination as a Condition Of Deployment (VCOD) regulations.

But this advice came despite the fact that the government’s planned consultation about revoking the mandate has not yet taken place.

The deadline for all home care workers to have a first dose of vaccine was Thursday 3 February, with employers ready to start dismissal procedures with unvaccinated staff.

‘Care workers have feared for their jobs’

Dr Jane Townson, chief executive of the Homecare Association, which represents home care providers has welcomed the government’s move to ditch the sector’s jab mandate but has called for “immediate clarity” from the government about the short-term implications of the government’s U-turn.

Dr Townson said: “Some employers have already initiated dismissal processes where employees have notice periods of 3 months, which is more common for live-in care”.

The Homecare Association has said “many people receiving care have experienced substantial worry about losing staff with whom they have built valuable relationships. And dedicated care workers have feared for their jobs, which they love, some after many years of service.

“Sector specialists of all types are frequently consulted and frequently ignored by the government, which creates unnecessary risk, as policy change is driven by those without relevant knowledge or experience.”

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