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Barchester Healthcare which runs care homes in Grantham introduces policy to force staff to get Covid-19 vaccine by April 23

Barchester Healthcare has introduced a new policy forcing all care home staff to have the coronavirus vaccine by April 23.

The group runs Maple Leaf Lodge and Newton House care homes in Grantham.

It says there has been a "strong uptake" of the vaccine so far but has introduced a new policy to make staff do so by April 23. Asked what would happen if they refused, a spokesman for Barchester said: "They would make themselves unavailable for work."

Newton House Care Home, Grantham (45506196)
Newton House Care Home, Grantham (45506196)

In a full statement, a spokesman for Barchester Healthcare said: "Overall, we are seeing strong uptake and positive engagement with Covid-19 vaccination. As of March 23, we are delighted that 92 per cent of our residents and 90 per cent of our staff have now had at least the first part of the Covid-19 vaccine, and many more are awaiting their vaccine following being Covid-19 negative for 28 days.

"We have been working hard to ensure that our staff make decisions about the vaccination in an informed way and we have provided them with a great deal of supporting information, including webinars with Professor Nicola Stonehouse, a renowned virologist, providing her independent expert opinion on a wide range of vaccine related questions including the efficacy of it, the impact it has on transmission of the virus as well as the safety of it, and as a result, almost all staff have either had the vaccine or are now preparing for it.

"Overall, we are seeing strong uptake and positive engagement, and we’re further encouraged by the research from Public Health England showing the effectiveness of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines in reducing hospital admissions by more than 80 per cent among the over 80s.

Maple Leaf Lodge Care Home, Grantham (45506216)
Maple Leaf Lodge Care Home, Grantham (45506216)

"Following staff engagement and a full risk assessment, we have introduced a new policy in which we expect all staff to have had the vaccine by April 23, 2021, although we are prepared to delay that date if there is any data regarding safety, efficacy or effect on transmission which requires further review. We have set out a number of acceptable exemptions, and exempted staff will operate with enhanced PPE."

The group said the new policy did not intend to discriminate against staff.

The spokesman added: "Our long-term ambition is that all patient and resident-facing staff will have the Covid-19 vaccine in order to protect both themselves and the vulnerable residents and patients in our care.

"We are very aware of concerns around possible discrimination which is in no way our intention. We are doing everything possible to ensure fairness whilst also delivering on our duty to protect our residents, patients and staff."

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