Care homes 'may have to close' over staffing crisis, Suffolk boss warns

Elderly woman talking with a doctor while holding hands at home and wearing face protective mask. Wo

There are fears that some care homes will have to close due to staff shortages. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Some care homes may be forced to close due to staff shortages as the deadline looms for workers to get fully vaccinated, the boss of a Suffolk care provider has warned. 

Care workers across England were required to get their first coronavirus vaccine by the end of Thursday and be double-jabbed by November 11 to keep their jobs. 

Trade union, Unison, has warned that the policy is partly to blame for a "severe staffing crisis" across the sector. 

David Finch, managing director of Cephas Care and former chairman of the Suffolk Association for Independent Care Providers, said the policy has exacerbated the issue around staff shortages. 

"It's a difficult one I think because 93% of care home staff have been double jabbed so obviously we've got 7% who aren't - and that may not sound like a lot but it's about 40,000 people across the UK," he said. 

"So to lose 40,000 people out of the care sector when we've already got numerous vacancies I think will mean that some homes will have to close.

"I suppose some homes will be in position when they aren't viable because you have to staff the home with agency staff and that costs. 

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"Predominately care has always been a difficult sector to recruit in but you can imagine the pool of people looking for work is now split between all the other sectors.

"I heard this morning that a pool had to close because it didn't have enough lifeguards and hotels have had to close. So everybody is trying to get staff and there seems to be fewer and fewer people."

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David Finch, managing director of Ipswich-based Cephas Care - Credit: Cephas Care

He said that he believes the government is over compensating due to previous "mistakes" made over care homes. 

"Personally I think this is trying to make up for mistakes which happened at the beginning of the pandemic," he added. 

"Care homes were pretty much thrown to the wolves and I think now the government are trying to make up for that but actually what they're doing is putting care homes back into an even worse situation where they don't have enough staff to provide that care effectively."

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: "We all accept we want as many people as possible to be vaccinated.

"But I do feel the government has gone forward with the social care compulsion without understanding the implications. Without having a thought-out plan on how they are going to deal with staff shortages.

"Care homes are now in a difficult position, facing the reality of do they have enough staff to maintain safety and quality of care?"

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