A CARE HOME chain with a number of homes in the area has said that it will only hire new staff who have the Covid-19 vaccine.

Barchester Healthcare said it is encouraging all its existing staff to get the vaccine, and that "all new staff must have the vaccination (if they medically can) before starting work".

Barchester Healthcare runs:

  • Spen Court Care Home, Heckmondwike
  • The Dales Care Home, Skipton
  • Threshfield Court Care Home, Skipton
  • Cookridge Court Care Home, Horsforth

The Government has been hesitant in introducing so called vaccine passports, but some companies have reportedly been pressing ahead and requiring staff to get vaccinated, or deciding not to hire staff who refuse to get the vaccine.

Barchester also said that it is ensuring new residents in its care homes have been vaccinated prior to their arrival.

In a statement on its website, the company said: "We are delighted that the majority of our residents and patients have been vaccinated.

"Those who aren’t yet vaccinated is largely due to the need to wait 28 days after being COVID-19 positive, but we are confident that all of our residents and patients who can be, will be vaccinated, and we will be ensuring that all new residents and patients will also be vaccinated before moving in.

"With regard to our staff, we are doing all we can to reassure and encourage those who are a little more reticent to have the vaccination, and we are also ensuring that all new staff must have the vaccination (if they medically can) before starting work looking after our vulnerable residents and patients who are in our care.

"We have been working hard to ensure that all of our staff are aware of the facts around the vaccination, and we have done a lot of communication to understand and alleviate any concerns.

"In addition we have conducted a survey to understand any reasons of doubt and ensure that we can fully answer any questions that staff may have, and more recently asked for the help of Professor Nicola Stonehouse, who is a Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Leeds, to talk to our staff and to answer any concerns they may have.

"For some there has been an issue of the timing and availability of the vaccine, and we are delighted that the Government has announced that care workers can now access their vaccination via the National Booking Service to help with ensuring as many as possible are able to get it as quickly as possible."

It comes as leaked Government documents to The Times have revealed plans to post 400,000 lateral flow tests to homes and businesses every day, with more than two-thirds of the population eligible for repeat rapid tests from next month - with priority given to schoolchildren, teachers and pupils - before being expanded further in the following months.

It's hoped this expansion of mass repeat testing, coupled with the vaccination programme, will allow the economy to get going again and people back into work.