The government is considering changing the law to make COVID-19 jabs mandatory for all care staff, according to a leaked document.
The paper, submitted to the Sub-Committee of COVID-19 operations and seen by the Telegraph, revealed that Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock had agreed to the proposal to make jabs compulsory for care workers in England.
The leaked document said: “The prime minister and the secretary of state [Hancock] have discussed on several occasions the progress that is being made to immunise social care workers against COVID-19 and have agreed – in order to reach a position of much greater safety for care recipients – to put in place legislation to require vaccinations among the workforce.”
In response to the reports, Hancock said that a decision had not yet been taken, but confirmed the government is looking at the possibility of mandatory care worker vaccines.
The news comes one month after the justice secretary said it may be legal for UK businesses to insist on new employees being vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of their employment.
Robert Buckland said it was unlikely bosses could make existing workers have the jab under their current contracts.
However, he added that insisting that new staff be vaccinated could, in theory, be possible, if it was written into their contacts.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told BBC News that there were “powerful arguments on both sides” over the debate on whether to compel all care workers to have a COVID vaccine.
He explained that it was important to “encourage as many people as possible, particularly in care homes” to have the jab.
Commenting on the reports, trade union Unison said compulsory vaccinations for care staff are “entirely the wrong way to increase injection take-up” and would “heap additional pressures on an already-challenged sector”.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Everyone wants the pandemic over and vaccinations are the route to normality. But turning the clock back to Victorian times by forcing care workers to be jabbed isn’t the way.
“All those who can have the vaccine should. That’s clear. But the key to getting the numbers up is for employers, unions and the government to work together.
“Instead of leaping to the law, ministers could start by putting the funds behind a targeted advertising campaign aimed at care staff.”