Three Central Bedfordshire care staff dismissed for being unvaccinated are welcome to apply for new vacancies now rules have been relaxed

Meeting also hears dramatic fall in infection rate likely to be due to fewer people taking tests or reporting results

By Euan Duncan
Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 5:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 5:44 pm

Three staff were dismissed in Central Bedfordshire before the relaxing of rules over whether health employees in care settings should be vaccinated against Covid, a meeting heard.

But they would be welcome to apply for posts again in future, a February 21 meeting of Central Bedfordshire Council' s social care, health and housing overview and scrutiny committee heard.

"An initiative to introduce mandatory vaccinations for social care staff and in specific care settings was raised previously," according to executive member for adult social care and Conservative Dunstable Central councillor Carole Hegley.

Vaccination

"There's been a change of direction since then," she said. "Also significant progress has been made over vaccine rollout, while Omicron seems to have been a lighter version of Covid.

"A consultation has concluded over revoking vaccination as a condition of employment across health and social care. The result will emerge and we'll need to consider that.

"For this council, on the legislation as it was previously, we dismissed three staff as a consequence of that.

"As and when vacancies arise, we would look forward to welcoming any staff again."

Testing for Covid

Updating the committee on Covid, Conservative Sandy councillor Tracey Stock said: "We're seeing a large decrease in infections for last week.

"There were 1,670 cases, which was a reduction of more than 1,000 on the previous week. The case rate is 491 per 100,000 of population compared to 1,270 cases per 100,000 at the end of January.

"So we're seeing quite a dramatic decrease. The true infection rate is likely to be higher than the reported cases because of fewer people reporting their test results or taking tests at all.

"An Office for National Statistics survey for that week suggests four per cent of residents in Bedfordshire have tested positive for the last seven days.

"Hospitalisation is falling, which is good news, particularly in Bedford Hospital. There were none in the intensive treatment unit at Bedford and only low figures in at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

"Changes are happening this week regarding self-isolation. So people won't have to self-isolate as of Thursday. (Feb 24th)

"But if you have flu like symptoms we would still recommend you stay at home. We must do what we can to protect the most vulnerable."

Total vaccine doses are 627,000 for Central Bedfordshire, while 1.87million first, second and booster jabs have been given in the BLMK area, added councillor Stock, who's the executive member for health, wellbeing and communities.

"The evergreen offer remains in place for anyone who hasn't had their vaccinations for any reason.

"Vaccinations have been opened up to include booster doses for 16- and 17-year-olds and the clinically extremely vulnerable for five- to 11-year-olds."

Conservative Ampthill councillor Paul Duckett called for clear guidelines, asking: "If people say 'I feel a bit poorly, so I'll stay at home for ten days' ... is that acceptable?

"We've got to define these things, rather than say 'if you feel a bit poorly, you'd not come in'.

"We can't have any of that 'it depends' stuff going on. We need clarity."