Council boss brands consultation on mandatory jabs ‘unhelpful’

Islington Town Hall in Upper Street

Islington Town Hall in Upper Street - Credit: Emma Bartholomew

Islington Council’s chief executive has criticised a government consultation on mandatory vaccinations for social care staff as “not particularly helpful”.

Top officer Linzi Roberts-Egan was speaking in a regular briefing to councillors on the pandemic, with community safety and coronavirus response lead Cllr Sue Lukes calling for a “very strong response” to the government consultation.

Councillor and officer united in saying that the approach the council prefers is one of “encouraging” staff to take the jab rather than “forcing” them to do so.

Linzi Roberts-Egan revealed that borough bosses had been “particularly concerned” after Christmas with low rates of take-up among adult social care staff, though more recent figures showed an “incremental rise”.

She said: “There is still consultation at the moment out from government to seek views as to whether it should be mandatory for those staff who work in social care to have a vaccination.  

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“As a professional, I don’t think that is particularly helpful. I think it is much more incumbent on us to encourage, offer advice support and education rather than to categorically say, ‘In order to do this job, you must do the following’.

“Evidence we have to date is people coming on board when it is a collaborative conversation rather than an order. Secondly, it is incredibly hard to attract staff into adult social care, and we don’t need anything that is actually going to cause that to be made even more fragile.”

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Cllr Lukes added: “It’s not just that it goes against so many other principles, that it potentially disadvantages so many people who already suffer so much disadvantage, there’s also no real public health argument for it.

“We do know that the vaccination does not actually stop people necessarily getting infected, and it is possible that vaccinated people will pass on infection.”

According to NHS data, 45.5 per cent of Islington’s older adult care homes could report that at least 80 per cent of total staff have been vaccinated with at least one dose.

The government is considering amending social care regulations so that older adult care home providers would only be able to use staff who had got the jab or were legitimately medical exempt.

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