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A care home boss has described the “heartbreaking” loss of six members of staff who resigned because of the government’s mandatory vaccination policy.
Niccii Gillett, manager of Elmfield House Residential Home in Woking, Surrey, said six of her 36 staff have already resigned due to the requirement rather than face dismissal.
She told Yahoo News UK that after she "educated staff and kept them informed" of the policy, the resignations began in August, with the last one handed in at the end of October.
Today is the deadline for care home staff in England to have been doubled jabbed with the COVID vaccine, except for those who are medically exempt.
The latest figures from the NHS show more than 60,000 staff had not been recorded as fully vaccinated as of 31 October, meaning tens of thousands face losing their jobs.
Gillett said her staff “firmly stated” in every resignation letter that they did not want to stop working, with two of them being at the 18-bed family-run home for seven years.
The 37-year-old told the PA news agency: “The sad thing is none of them wanted to leave. And reading their resignation letters was heartbreaking.
“They’re so grateful for the opportunities and the first one that left, we gave gifts.
“It was such an emotional afternoon and for days afterwards my residents were heartbroken because they saw this person as one of them, and even a resident, they have said ‘I wish she could come back, I don’t care that she’s not vaccinated’.”
Watch: Vaccine mandate 'the right decision' is it makes care homes safer – Sajid Javid
Of the staff she has lost, she said two are double jabbed but had reactions to the vaccine and are nervous that the government will make booster jabs mandatory.
One had thought she would be medically exempt but was told she is not – a decision she is appealing.
Gillett said there is anger and frustration among staff who had wished to remain in the jobs, adding: “What has really aggravated people is with our residents, everything is about choice, it’s about consent – keywords that are drummed into you as soon as you enter the profession, but that choice has been taken away from my staff.”
In a Facebook post, Gillett said that she sees “all perspectives from this debate” but added: “What I also see is those are the staff who worked tirelessly through the pandemic, many without adequate PPE [personal protective equipment], these carers caught COVID looking after other peoples loved ones but didn’t complain…
“Care is poorly paid, highly stigmatised and faces real recruitment struggles, yet today this country loses a huge number of skilled, dedicated care staff, who saw this career as their vocation, all because they choose not to be vaccinated.”
Gillett has managed to recruit four full-time staff but is still looking for part-time workers to cover weekend and evening shifts.
Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum, said there was a “human cost” to the government’s mandatory jab policy.
She told BBC Breakfast that about 8% of staff are leaving their jobs, on top of those who have already quit the sector since the policy was announced.
But business minister Paul Scully said this morning that social care workers had been given “plenty of warning” to get vaccinated before today’s deadline.
He added to LBC: “I’d hope that people would, if they haven’t had their vaccination, go back and reconsider and get that vaccination done if they want to continue working with those vulnerable people.”
Watch: NHS care worker posts tearful video after losing job over vaccine refusal