A CARE home provider of an Andover home has said it is considering whether staff who have refused a vaccine for non-medical reasons can look after residents.

Barchester Healthcare, which runs Rothsay Grange in Weyhill, has already announced that it will not employ new staff if they have not had the Covid vaccine for non-medical reasons.

It is now considering an option where staff make themselves “unavailable for work” in resident/patient facing roles “by reason of their own decision” to not have a vaccine.

Barchester Healthcare, which runs 200 homes across the country including has said no decision has yet been made about its possible new policy. 

A spokesman 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, and we have very recently communicated to our teams that one option under consideration is that staff who refuse the vaccine on non-medical grounds will, by reason of their own decision, make themselves unavailable for work.

“This is part of an ongoing dialogue we are having; we are constantly reviewing this as more information is available and 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.”

As of February 15, 78 per cent of Barchester staff had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The provider said “many more” are waiting for a jab after testing positive for the virus.

It said just under six per cent had not yet decided to have the vaccine.

The government has previously said that forcing an employee to have a vaccine would be “discriminatory”.

Barchester Healthcare said it is doing “all we can to reassure and encourage those who are a little more reticent to have the vaccination”.

It has been working to ensure all staff are aware of the facts around the vaccination to “alleviate any concerns”.

It added: “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”.

It also enlisted the help of Professor Nicola Stonehouse, a professor of molecular virology at the University of Leeds, to talk to staff and answer any concerns they have.