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Care home staff could be forced to have Covid jabs under plans expected to be revealed by the Government.
The controversial measures would make the vaccinations compulsory but could also trigger legal action by workers who could claim the rule is a breach of European human rights law.
According to the Guardian, ministers are also considering making the jabs mandatory to everyone who works for the NHS.
Employers and staff organisations in the social care sector have warned that any measures to 'force' the 1.5million workers to have the jab could backfire as some may choose to leave their jobs instead.
Under the plans being drawn workers will have 16 weeks to have the vaccine or face being fired, the media outlet claims.
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Covid jabs 'to become compulsory for care home staff (stock image)
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The Government is also said to be keen to make the jab compulsory for the 1.38 million people who are directly employed by the NHS in England.
They are also considering the same measures for the annual flu jab which has been slammed by groups representing doctors, nurses and other staff.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will reportedly launch two separate consultation exercises in the next few days into making Covid and flu jabs mandatory for NHS staff.
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Ministers believe the arguments in favour of protecting patients from potentially infectious staff now outweigh those that gives health workers the right to choose whether or not to be jabbed.
The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said that while they want all NHS staff to get jabbed, “compulsion is a blunt instrument that carries its own risks”, The Guardian reports.
It said: “While some healthcare workers are already required to be immunised against certain conditions to work in certain areas, any specific proposal for the compulsory requirement for all staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19 would raise new ethical and legal implications."
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Staff working some areas, such as surgery, must be vaccinated against some viruses such as hepatitis B.
The NHS Confederation, which represents health service trusts in England, has described plans for compulsory vaccines for staff as “unhelpful”.
It also warned that hospital bosses are “unlikely" to welcome the move.
One NHS boss told the Guardian: “If you are going to go down this route of mandation for NHS staff, you will get into a direct confrontation with a group of staff who you’re forcing to do this at a time when you’re denying them a decent pay rise but also saying how much you love them.
The NHS Confederation has described the plans as “unhelpful”
(Image: Getty Images)
“The government hasn’t thought through the consequences of this. Hospital trusts could end up having to suspend or even dismiss members of staff who continue to refuse to be vaccinated against Covid in defiance of a policy requiring them to get jabbed,” the senior figure said.
The Government is drawing up the plans despite data showing that 89% of NHS staff had had their first dose and 82% had had both as of June 6.
But take-up has been lower among social care staff with statistics showing that 83.7% of staff in adult care homes had received at least one dose and 68.7% had been double-jabbed by June 6.
A DHSC spokesperson told the Mirror: “Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and have already saved thousands of lives – with millions of health and care staff vaccinated.
“Our priority is to make sure people in care homes are protected and we launched the consultation to get views on whether and how the government might take forward a new requirement for adult care home providers, looking after older people, to only deploy staff who have had a COVID-19 vaccination or have an appropriate exemption.
“The consultation ended on Wednesday 26 May and we will publish our response in due course.”