Care home workers have launched legal action against the Government over its mandatory vaccination policy, The Telegraph can reveal.
All care home workers are required to have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by Thursday so that they are fully vaccinated by the time the regulations come into force on November 11.
However, by the Department for Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) own estimates, around 40,000 carers – seven per cent of the workforce – will refuse the jab, meaning that managers will be forced to sack them. The policy has been dubbed “no jab, no job” by those working in the sector.
It can now be reported that the controversial policy is the subject of an eleventh-hour bid by care workers who are refusing to be vaccinated to have the law overturned.
Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, is facing legal action over the introduction of the mandatory vaccine policies, which claimants describe as an “unlawful and unnecessary restriction”.
Two care workers are seeking a judicial review, which is crowdfunded and bankrolled by Simon Dolan, the freedom of choice campaigner, who said that the review, if successful, “will protect the livelihoods and freedoms” of tens of thousands of care workers.
Mr Dolan described the case as having “far-reaching and incredibly important implications for freedom of choice in this country”.
He said: “It should not be the case that the Government can intervene into the lives of the general public and dictate what medical procedures they do or do not have.”
One of the workers operates in a resident-facing role, the other is required by their employer to infrequently visit care homes.
The legal action is being brought under five grounds, including claims that the regulations are incompatible with laws prohibiting the enforcement of mandatory vaccines, that they interfere with the public’s right to “bodily integrity” and that they will disproportionately impact women and those who identify as Black/Caribbean/Black British – in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights.
It is also claimed that the Health Secretary failed to consider alternatives to mandatory vaccination, and that the rules are irrational and will lead to shortages in both frontline and non-frontline care workers.
The claimants seeking permission for the judicial review against the Government are Julie Peters, a care home programme director from Poole, Dorset, who is predominantly office-based and is infrequently required to visit care homes, and believes she should have freedom of choice over medical interventions.
The other claimant, Nicola Findley, a full-time care home support worker from Wolverhampton, is concerned about side-effects related to the vaccine and whether the Government’s advice can be trusted.
Regulations ‘would set us back centuries’
Stephen Jackson, solicitor for the claimants, said “The courts have long described the relationship of employer and employee as that of master and servant.
“These regulations attempt to legitimise a system of coercion and to set us back centuries to a time when the master had effective ownership and control over the servant’s body.
“The regulations are not only medieval in their purpose and determination to ignore the science, which has now shown them to be pointless, but they discriminate against black and ethnic minority workers who make up a significant portion of the low-paid carers and support staff who have worked tirelessly, not only over the last 18 months but for many years.”
A request has been made for a “rolled up” hearing in late October, at which the High Court will decide whether the claim should be given permission to proceed to judicial review, as well as a final determination of the case.
Under regulations set out by an amendment to The Health and Social Care Act 2008, the public will be prevented from entering a care home unless they have received two doses of the Janssen, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccines after November 11, 2021.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The vast majority of care staff are already vaccinated and we are focusing on encouraging even more staff to get jabbed to protect their colleagues and those they care for.
“Through public consultation we have listened to the experiences and concerns of providers and people living and working in care homes to shape our approach.
“Our message is clear: vaccines save lives and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the risk for vulnerable people in care homes.”