Confusion reigns over fallout in Northamptonshire care homes from the government's no jabs, no job mandate.
Staff who missed the deadline on Thursday (November 11) to have two doses of Covid-19 vaccine were no longer allowed to work face-to-face in the care sector.
That sparked fears of staff shortages leading to NHS hospitals being gridlocked by patients who cannot be discharged as homes are unable to accept new residents based on lower staffing levels.
Yet official numbers on how many Northamptonshire care workers are affected vary wildly while care home providers have refused to discuss the impact.
NHS England figures showed 953 of the county's 6,400 staff in older adult care homes had not received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine by Sunday (November 7), four days before the deadline.
In West Northamptonshire, NHS data showed 3,439 out of 3,762 staff — nearly nine percent — had not received even one jab. More than 620, nearly 17 percent, were not fully vaccinated.
A report to go before the council’s People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday (November 16) said 190 care home staff were expected to leave their employment with effect from November 11.
Yet a council statement on Friday (November 12) said only 3.8 percent of its care home workers had been forced to quit, according to the national tracker which is directly completed by the care home — which could be as few as 143 members of staff.
It added that an unidentified number have been offered other work.
Ashley Le Duc, Assistant Director of Commissioning and Performance Adults and Wellbeing at West Northamptonshire County Council said: “The large majority of staff in council run care homes will stay with us — 87.1 percent are now fully vaccinated and the the remaining percentage are planning to have their second dose.
“For those who have chosen to remain unvaccinated, and it is their choice, we have offered redeployment opportunities within the sector.
“It is just 3.82 percent of the workforce who remain steadfast in their conviction not to be vaccinated and for whom redeployment was not possible, we are very sad to see these individuals leave the profession.
“The discrepancy in the figure shown on the NHS England weekly bulletin published on Thursday is due to a recognised time lag difference in data, commonly acknowledged amongst professionals in the field.“
The committee report to be discussed tomorrow added that “care homes are reporting they are able sustain safe levels of care based on staff losses however, additional placements have slowed down due to care homes stating that they do not have the staff to take on additional residents.”
In North Northamptonshire, NHS England says 2,408 out of 2,736 staff in older care homes — around 12 percent — have not been double jabbed.
North Northamptonshire Council did not respond to requests for clarification on its position.
One of the county's largest care home providers came up with a firm no comment on how its homes are coping.
Northampton-based Avery has seven homes in the town and in Kettering and Corby caring for up to 600 people among its 60 locations across England.
But when asked to give an indication of how the current situation is affecting them, a spokesperson said: “We are not prepared to comment.”
Another provider Barchester, which has five homes in Northampton, Kettering and Brackley also did not say how many of its staff had left or been forced to stop work.
Its statement issued on Friday — the day after new rules came into force — only confirmed that all its staff are vaccinated in accordance with the government’s mandate.
A spokesperson said: “We are pleased that all staff across our homes in Northamptonshire are vaccinated, with the exception of those who are medically exempt.
“Those staff with valid medical exemptions will operate with enhanced PPE.”
It added: “Months ago we took the decision that staff working in a Barchester care home or hospital must be vaccinated and we have carried out extensive internal communication and engagement programmes with staff, as well as one-to-one support to encourage this.
“As a result we have seen strong uptake and positive engagement with the Covid-19 vaccination.”