Forcing out approx. 40,000 social care workers for declining the Covid jab was not just unethical, but disastrous for the care sector and those it supports. The sector now has 165,000 vacancies, with 500,000 members of the public waiting for assessments, care or reviews. The situation is grave and urgent, not least as without a functioning care sector the NHS will collapse.
Everyone is invited to co-sign our open letter to new Health Secretary Steve Barclay below. We’ll be delivering a hard copy of the letter in early December (note: original deadline extended due to change of Health Secretary.)
Please note, we will not list all individual names but provide a total count instead.
23,000+ signed in first few days!
Dear Steve Barclay,
With 165,000 vacancies in the social care sector, we the undersigned urge you to do the right thing and apologise, reinstate and compensate approximately 40,000 workers forced out for declining ‘Covid 19’ injections
We congratulate you on your recent appointment as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and look forward to seeing your detailed plans for the resurrection of the NHS and Social Care sector.
This huge task, which we sincerely hope will be effectively addressed under your leadership, can be made far easier by righting the injustice of the estimated 40,000 social care workers forced out of their jobs for declining ‘Covid 19’ injections.
Tens of thousands of the least well-paid, yet hardest working and most dedicated and caring people in our country were first put under incredible stress, and then forced out of their jobs, for declining a novel and non-risk-free medical treatment.
The grave but entirely predictable upshot of this disastrous policy has been catastrophic disruption to the sector which now threatens the health of the public, not least as the performance of the social care sector is inextricably linked with the ability of the NHS to function adequately. We have a reported 165,000 staff vacancies in the sector, 500,000 people waiting for assessments, care or reviews, on top of a £3.7bn funding gap that has brought many local care providers to the brink of collapse.
Given the reliance of the NHS as a whole on a functional care sector, a decision not to apologise to, encourage reinstatement of, and compensate such a huge number of experienced care staff as a matter of urgency would not only be immoral but irresponsible, would it not?
Your predecessor Sajid Javid’s ‘mandate’ policy was wrong in principle, and wrong in practice
Failure to respect bodily autonomy was wrong in principle. ‘No jab, no job’ amounted to blackmail. But even on a practical level, the ‘mandate’ policy was always illogical and ill-advised.
For starters, natural immunity was totally ignored as a factor – for reasons that remain unclear. Throughout most of 2021 it was clear that Covid jabs did not prevent transmission and by October, the Guardian was explicitly reporting that ‘research reveals fully vaccinated people are just as likely to pass (the) virus on… whether an infected individual is themselves fully vaccinated or unvaccinated makes little or no difference to how infectious they are to their household contacts’ (our emphasis). This alone should have been enough to kill off this divisive policy. Yet, seemingly oblivious to the actual scientific data, your predecessor Sajid Javid took to television the same month, belligerently ‘warning’ care workers ‘if you cannot be bothered to go and get vaccinated then get out… go and get another job.’
On 9 November 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care warned Javid that his ‘mandate’ policy would result in upwards of 40,000 care staff leaving the sector. He persisted with it anyway, and on 11 November workers who had not already been forced out were sacked in droves. Many lost not only their jobs, but also their pensions.
Though your predecessor was forced to abandon vaccination as a condition of deployment in health and social care settings on 1 March 2022, the damage had already been done with so many skilled and experienced staff lost. Many of them, now in better paid and often less demanding work, will be hard to attract back, not least as they feel so thoroughly insulted, undervalued and bullied:
‘This bullying tactic – ‘No jab, no job’ – is absolutely appalling. Matt Hancock got all the care homes into a mess by discharging residents from hospital without testing, amid a lack of PPE, and the list goes on. I’ve worked all the way through this pandemic, had not one day off and have been extremely careful throughout with regular lateral flow testing before shifts and a PCR twice a week. It is really not fair.”
“I’m going to get fired, I will be leaving my job. I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I believe Covid is real. But I want more information before I put a vaccine into my body. I know several people who said they had menstrual problems after having it, and I don’t want a medical procedure when we don’t know the long-term effects.”
“There’s other colleagues who will be leaving too. The residents are going to suffer. I’m certainly not in this job for money, I love my job and would like to continue. But I will have to find a different career, I might be stacking shelves at Lidl.”
It is particularly galling and ironic that those in the care sector seem to have been the ‘guinea pigs’ of the mandatory vaccination policy, it only being dropped after the policy was abandoned for NHS staff. After all, the High Court actually ruled the policies of then Health Secretary Matt Hancock unlawful in discharging untested patients from hospitals to care homes in England at the start of the Covid situation; this terrible mistake caused a ‘shocking death toll.’ Yet in the febrile environment of Spring 2020, encouraged by government’s heavily fear-based messaging, care workers actually became scapegoats even as they risked their lives, with some ‘spat at, sent death threats and labelled “carriers of death”, forcing (them) to hide their uniforms from the public.’
In purely financial terms, the cost of the ‘mandate’ policy to the care sector was profound. The Department of Health and Social Care calculated that each employee lost to the policy would cost £2,500 to replace in recruitment, induction and training costs alone. This policy has left care providers with an estimated bill of upwards of £100million. This calculation does not even consider the subsequent impact on the staff that remained within the sector and the resultant lowering of morale and increased sickness absence.
Without a functioning social care system, the NHS will collapse
Given all the warnings, both from within government and across the sector itself, to persist with this policy was reckless in the extreme, because as you will be well aware, without a functioning social care system, the NHS will collapse.
We know a record 29,317 people had to wait more than 12 hours in Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments in England in July from decision to admit to being admitted. Meanwhile, only four in 10 patients could be discharged from the hospital when they were ready in July, essentially because of capacity problems in the social care sector. The latter represents an 11% rise on the previous month and is, in turn, contributing to tremendous pressure on ambulance services and A&E departments.’
As you know, the social care sector plays a crucial role in supporting people to keep them out of the NHS in terms of recovery and, particularly for those with a mental health condition, in terms of prevention and relapse.
There is no time to waste. We support your immediate priority to stabilise and improve the current care system, and in turn the NHS.
In this aim, bringing the approximately 40,000 experienced care staff who were lost back into the sector is vital, ethical and urgent.
Please do the right thing morally and practically: Apologise, Reinstate, Compensate
Early in your new role, when the entire country is relying on you and your ability to deliver a functional health and social care sector including the NHS, you have a golden opportunity do the right thing morally, and practically. Here is what must happen now:
As we remarked earlier, thousands of workers forced out of the sector feel thoroughly insulted, undervalued and bullied by the events of the last 18 months or so. An official apology from Government that the previous policy was a mistake is a simple but essential step to resolving this mess. To return to the sector, workers will also need reassurance that this can never happen again.
We are aware that reinstatement in privately run care settings will mean individual employers taking staff back. As Secretary of State, you can use your influence to encourage it; if necessary you could organise legislation for it.
There is evidence of individual care homes still requiring Covid jabs as a condition of employment. Legally questionable as this may be, it underlines that in addition to the need for an open public apology for the ‘mandate’ policy, clarification of the legal position for job applicants and employers in the sector, and an awareness campaign encouraging reinstatement of the lost care workers, should be a priority.
As remarked earlier, many experienced care workers who were forced out have now found better paid, and likely less demanding work. By the same token, most were in the care sector because they really did care. We believe many can be attracted back subject to a public apology and awareness campaign across the sector encouraging reinstatement, however with a cost of living crisis, it would be foolish to imagine they are likely to do so without a reasonable financial incentive – in addition to competitive pay.
Of course, it is deeply regrettable that compensating victims of this failed policy will incur yet more cost to the taxpayer. But frankly, what else is new; and frankly, what other option is there at this stage?
Whatever one’s position on the events of the Covid era, all can agree on one thing: serious mistakes were made. It is time the Government started righting some of them and there can be no better place to begin, than here.
We, the undersigned, urge the Government to do the right thing: apologise to the approximately 40,000 care sector workers it forced out, encourage their reinstatement, and compensate them.
Alan Miller, Co-Founder Together Association
Allison Pearson, Journalist
Julia Hartley-Brewer, Broadcaster & Journalist
Jasmine Birtles, Broadcaster
Maajid Nawaz, Broadcaster
Adam Brooks, Campaigner
Stephen Jackson, Lawyer
Matt Gubba, Campaigner
Martin Daubney, Journalist & Broadcaster
Professor Carl Heneghan, Oxford University
Dr Renee Hoenderkamp
Bev Turner, Broadcaster
Dr Teck Khong
Dr Tony Hinton
Dr Clare Craig
Dr Gary Sidley
Dr Ros Jones
Dr Zoe Harcombe
James Bembridge, Journalist
Richard Tice, Leader, Reform UK
Laura Dodsworth, Broadcaster & Author
Molly Kingsley, Co-Founder, UsForThem
Stephen Jackson, Lawyer
Dr Elizabeth Finch, UK Medical Freedom Alliance
Laurence Fox, Leader Reclaim Party
Matt Le Tissier, Sportsman & Broadcaster
Danny Rampling, DJ & Musician