A CARE-home operator with services in Haslemere, Hindhead and Grayshott has hit out at new rules making Covid vaccines mandatory for all residential care workers in England.

The new rules, announced by the health secretary Matt Hancock last week, are expected to come into force from around October despite warnings from some care leaders that it could cause a staffing crisis.

Award-winning care home group CHD Living, which runs Bronscombe Care Residences in Haslemere, Crest Lodge for mentally-ill young adults in Hindhead and CHD Care at Home Hampshire in Grayshott, is one of those to speak out against mandatory jabs.

Shaleeza Hasham, head of hospitality and communications at CHD Living, said: “I am fundamentally against compulsory vaccinations for existing employees.

“Of course we want our carers and residents to be protected. However, I feel we need to support our staff and allow them the choice to make their own, informed decisions.

“With most residents now vaccinated, they are significantly more protected from catching and getting sick from the virus, so the risk is reduced even if a carer hasn’t been vaccinated themselves.

“Our fear is that compulsory vaccination could result in carers leaving the profession, which would cause widespread issues for the industry.

“I do believe, though, there is an argument that new employees should have had the vaccine as a term of employment.

“At CHD Living, our current position is we are strongly encouraging staff to have the vaccine but it’s currently not a condition of employment.”

Currently, 66 per cent of CHD Living’s carers have had their first and second vaccinations.

Announcing mandatory jabs for care workers in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock described it as a “sensible and reasonable step” and added he would consult on extending it to the NHS.

If health workers choose not to be vaccinated, they face being redeployed away from front-line care or potentially losing their jobs.