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Barchester Healthcare which runs care homes in Ipswich and Lowestoft 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 two care homes in Suffolk - the Alice Grange Care Home in Ipswich as well as the Oulton Park Care Centre in Oulton Broad, just outside Lowestoft.

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

Alice Grange Care Home in Ipswich. Picture: Google Maps (45509355)
Alice Grange Care Home in Ipswich. Picture: Google Maps (45509355)

A spokesman for Barchester Healthcare said 92 per cent of residents and 90 per cent of staff have now had the first jab, with many more due to get theirs soon.

"We have been working hard to ensure that our staff make decisions about the vaccination in an informed way," he said.

"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."

Oulton Park Care Home in Oulton Broad. Picture: Google Maps (45509358)
Oulton Park Care Home in Oulton Broad. Picture: Google Maps (45509358)

He added that although the company has introduced the new policy, it is 'prepared to delay that date' if there are further reviews into safety, efficacy or effect of the vaccine.

"We have set out a number of acceptable exemptions, and exempted staff will operate with enhanced PPE," he said.

"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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