03/29/2022 / By Zoey Sky
The U.K.’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid on March 15 revoked the country’s “no vaccine, no job” policy for home care workers. However, it is still unclear whether or not those who lost their jobs for refusing to get the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines will be rehired after the government reversed the draconian requirement.
Back in November, the U.K. government estimated that at least 40,000 home care professionals were fired because of the controversial vaccine policy. And while Javid revoked the vaccine mandate, he hasn’t provided updates on whether those who lost their jobs will eventually be allowed to return to work.
Members of the House of Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee criticized the Department of Health and Social Care‘s (DHSC) silence on the matter.
Baroness Cathy Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, one of the committee’s members, said it was “disappointing” that the department has not provided details regarding whether the unvaccinated former staff will be reinstated.
She did praise the DHSC for the information and scientific evidence behind its decision to revoke the vaccine mandate policies. According to Bakewell, the decision is important and requires “proper evaluation in light of the pandemic experience.”
In a memorandum sent to the committee, the DHSC announced that it is in talks with the National Health Service (NHS) to review recruitment policy to consider vaccination status when hiring new staff. According to the DHSC, the matter of rehiring staff was up to individual employers. (Related: British MP: Scale of COVID vaccine damage a NIGHTMARE.)
As of writing, the DHSC has not released an official number home care workers who quit or were fired because of the vaccine policy.
Industry experts said the decision came too late because many workers wouldn’t return to the severely understaffed sector, which was already short of 100,000 employees before the coronavirus pandemic occurred. A similar rule was considered for employees of the NHS in April, but the proposed requirement was scrapped after warnings of “crippling staff shortages.”
The DHSC canceled the proposed mandate after being warned that more than 80,000 healthcare workers would be forced out of their jobs for refusing to take the required vaccines, citing the “comparative mildness” of the omicron variant.
Pat Cullen, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary and chief executive, agreed that this was the right decision, especially since threatening the job security of the majority of workers when only a handful remained unvaccinated “was the wrong approach” and that the decision would offer relief to people whose jobs were at risk.
Cullen also noted that the move was too late for those who already lost their jobs. She urged ministers to address the health and social care workforce crisis, which is making it difficult for nursing staff to “care safely for their patients,” particularly when there are tens of thousands of nursing vacancies for those services.
Gavin Edwards, the head of care at Unison, said: “There were always better ways of upping the jab rate in care. Making the vaccine mandatory meant thousands of experienced staff quit care homes. These were workers the struggling sector could ill afford to lose.
“Many won’t go back either. They have found better paid, less stressful work elsewhere. Ministers could go some way towards making up for the distress caused by ensuring every care worker is paid at least the real living wage. That would begin to solve the current staffing crisis.”
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