“It’s very clear the social care sector is not going to be able to support the NHS in the same way it normally does”
One of the largest care home providers in the country, Four Seasons Health Care, has had to refuse NHS requests to discharge patients into its homes after losing staff ahead of the mandatory vaccine deadline tomorrow.
The latest figures show nearly 32,000 care home staff have yet to have any jabs and another 30,000 have only received their first dose, meaning the sector could loose tens of thousands of staff from Thursday.
Speaking to The Independent, Jeremy Richardson, chief executive of Four Seasons, said that in the last two weeks the provider had refused 80 requests from the NHS for admission, as the loss of staff meant that homes would not be able to ensure safe care if they accepted the patients.
Mr Richardson warned that the government’s decision to mandate vaccines was “really unhelpful and unnecessary”. He said: “I don’t think the government should have mandated the vaccine. I don’t think it’s necessary; I think it’s a retrogressive step.
“During the winter what you tend to see is a greater level of discharges from hospital into care homes. It’s very clear the social care sector is not going to be able to support the NHS in the same way it normally does, because there just aren’t the volume of people to support the NHS’s requirements this year.
“We have got to, in some cases, restrict numbers of admissions we can take, to ensure we can continue to provide the level of care we need to.”
Yesterday the government confirmed that NHS staff would have to be fully vaccinated from 1 April next year. However, its analysis accepted that 73,000 NHS workers, and 35,000 care workers, may not have had their vaccines in time, and warned that this could lead to reduced or delayed services.
The NHS is facing one of its toughest winters yet in terms of A&E admissions and attendances. One of the key drivers of pressure within the service is the high number of patients in hospital beds needing to be discharged, as this means beds are not available for new admissions.