Carers Trust responds to government's decision to deprioritise unpaid carers on National Booking System for the Covid-19 vaccine
Unpaid adult carers who are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, and are not known to be carers by the health and care system will be unable to book a vaccine on the National Booking System, instead they will have to approach their GP, according to the latest information.
Carers Trust estimate there are 5.5 million unpaid carers across England. Unpaid carers often provide a significant level of care for people who are clinically vulnerable. It is important that all eligible unpaid carers can access the vaccine easily as an urgent priority, whether they are known to be eligible unpaid carers or not. Unpaid carers have told Carers Trust that not all GPs recognise them as unpaid carers and may not add them to the list for access to the vaccine.
Responding to the decision to de-prioritise eligible unpaid carers on the National Booking System for Covid-19 vaccinations, Carers Trust CEO, Gareth Howells, said:
“The decision to de-prioritise eligible unpaid carers on the National Booking System is unacceptable, and should be reversed immediately. A recent Carers Trust survey found that two thirds of unpaid carers were caring for fifty hours a week or more. The same survey found that many carers have had to increase their caring hours still further as a result of the lockdown and needing to provide even more care at home for the vulnerable relatives they care for. It is no exaggeration to say that they have filled a massive hole in the social care system that has only deepened further because of the pandemic.
“The Government promised eligible unpaid carers who are not known to the system access to the vaccine, also saying its timetable would not be affected by supply issues. So it is incredibly disappointing to learn on the day that shielding ends that, despite everything unpaid carers have done and their need to get back to some kind of normality, it will be harder for many eligible unpaid carers to receive the vaccine and they could suffer because of a problem that is not of their making.”
- The last census pointed towards there being over 5.5 m unpaid carers in England, many of whom are not registered with or assessed by the local authority, are not on a GP carers register and are not eligible for Carer’s Allowance.
- According to the latest Government statistics the total number of people claiming Carer’s Allowance at February 2020 was 1.3 million.
- Eligible unpaid carers are part of the Priority Group 6 for the vaccine.
- The vaccine roll out to priority group 6 has been inconsistently applied because of a delayed Standard Operating Procedure that came out after priority group 6 was started being vaccinated, and poor application of this guidance locally.
- We heard recently from Government that there are supply issues, however, they initially said this will not change their vaccine rollout timetable.
- Unpaid carers have filled the massive hole left in the social care system as a result of the pandemic and have been providing more care at home as a result In our Social Care Survey following the pandemic we found Coronavirus has exacerbated what was already a dire situation for unpaid carers, many of whom were at breaking point even before the pandemic struck. One in six (16%) reported that lockdowns and closure of local services have forced them into caring for an additional 40 hours or more per week.
- Because of supply issues, the National Booking System will no longer accept a vaccine booking from any eligible unpaid carer who isn’t eligible for Carer’s Allowance, hasn’t had a carers’ needs assessment, or registered locally as a carer with health and social care. This is unacceptable. There are millions of unpaid carers across England who aren’t currently known to health and social care systems.
- The Government is trying to increase uptake of the vaccine among minority ethnic communities. Carers from minority ethnic communities are less likely to be known to the health and care systems, therefore this change will make it harder for unpaid carers from these communities to get the vaccine.