Some of England’s only holiday homes for disabled people in care are facing closure due to the policy that means all staff must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
The charity, Revitalise, said England’s vaccines mandate for care homes was having “devastating consequences” for a sector already in crisis.
The 60-year-old company, whose patron is the former prime minister’s wife and businesswoman Samantha Cameron, runs three specialist holiday centres in England which provide care for 4,600 disabled people and their carers each year.
Janine Tregelles, the chief executive, said the future of the charity was under threat because of the policy that all care staff in England must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus by 11 November.
“For Revitalise and for the care sector, the mandatory vaccination policy will, if implemented, have devastating consequences,” she said.
The government said it was vital for care home staff to be fully vaccinated to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society. More than 90% of eligible staff had received their first dose of a Covid vaccine by last week, it said.
The mandatory vaccination policy applies only to care homes in England. It does not apply in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, where it has not been adopted by the devolved governments.
Ministers have previously said they estimate that about 7% of the 570,000 CQC-registered care home staff in England – about 40,000 people – will refuse the vaccine and therefore no longer be able to care for residents after 11 November.
Tregelles said the future of at least one of its three specialist respite centres was at stake. She said five key, longstanding colleagues had chosen not to be vaccinated “because they believe in their right to bodily integrity, which is enshrined in the Human Rights Act”.
Another seven employees, who have been vaccinated, are threatening to resign if their colleagues are made redundant, she said. This means that one holiday centre may have to close, putting “the rest of the charity under threat”.
She questioned the logic of a policy that applies only to care home staff – not to residents or visitors – or to frontline NHS workers, who frequently come into close contact with vulnerable patients. The health and social care secretary, Sajid Javid, has said the policy was “highly likely” to be extended to frontline NHS staff after a consultation.
Tregelles said: “The welfare of our guests is our foremost priority and concern so there is a great irony that this new law, ostensibly designed to protect them, will only end up doing them harm.”
She urged ministers to ditch the policy before it deepens the staffing crisis “they have exacerbated beyond measure”.
“We need our leaders to work with us to ease, not worsen, the staffing crisis, to seek more balanced ways to encourage vaccination take up and to consider a range of different measures to ensure that care workers and the cared for, are looked after safely,” she said. “Mandatory vaccination is not the answer.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said: “Over 90% of care home staff have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine ahead of the 11 November deadline and we encourage even more staff to get vaccinated to protect their colleagues and those they care for.
“Temporarily, those who meet the criteria for a medical exemption will be able to self-certify until we introduce a new system. This will ensure those with medical exemptions can continue working in care homes.”