How First Response Training is responding to the latest vaccination requirements

National workplace training provider, First Response Training (FRT), has taken decisive steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its staff, clients, learners and they people they support.

The leading training provider, which works with hundreds of local and national health and social care providers on a regular basis, has confirmed that all of its trainers are double vaccinated.

FRT have verified that all of their trainers have received two doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine and have stated that it is their policy, for the foreseeable future, not to recruit or deploy any trainers that remain unvaccinated.

In addition to this, all trainers carry out Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) on a twice-weekly basis and the results are recorded centrally. Trainers can only deliver courses if they have evidence of a negative test result.

Providing Covid-19 secure training

The training provider continued to provide a wide range of workplace training throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, adopting stringent safety procedures to control the risk of transmission. Their Covid-19 Secure Pledge encompassed a number of measures in line with government guidelines, recommendations and changing lockdown rules. This included the development and regular updating of a Covid-19 risk assessment addressing their training activities and additional secure measures for practical training.

FRT also supported many of their clients to move their staff training programmes across to the virtual learning environment, delivering over 2,000 live, remote webinars as well as providing bespoke e-learning courses throughout the pandemic.

The company was also able to access priority vaccination for their trainers due to their role in delivering essential training to frontline workers within settings which housed or supported vulnerable people.

Vaccination requirements for care home workers

Current government guidelines state that all care home workers must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by 11th November 2021 in order to continue to carry out work within a residential care setting, although certain exemptions do apply. Many care services have also confirmed that they will not be allowing anyone who has not been vaccinated to enter their setting.

As a major provider of training to the adult social care sector, with Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider status, FRT takes its position on this matter very seriously.

Amy Ridge, Managing Director at FRT, explained: “We deliver training for some of the providers and frontline workers who were hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. They require certain assurances from us, and we are committed to protecting their safety and to enabling them to continue to provide safe, high-quality care through the provision of essential training.

“We must therefore confirm, after careful consideration, that we have made the decision to only utilise trainers who have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Our entire training team is double vaccinated, and we will not be using any trainers who remain unvaccinated.

“We understand that taking up the offer of vaccination is a personal choice, and can be a sensitive issue, but we have to take steps to protect the health, safety and welfare of our staff, our clients, our learners and the people they support – many of whom are among the most vulnerable members of society.”

You can view and download First Response Training’s poster regarding their policy on vaccination for trainers here.

Care providers face ‘catastrophic shortages’ as jab deadline looms

Union leaders warn that care providers could face “catastrophic” staff shortages if the government refuses to scrap its deadline of 11th November for all care workers in England to be double-jabbed.

The current deadline means that any care home workers or volunteers who have not yet taken up the vaccine must receive their first dose today in order to receive their second dose on time and continue to work in the sector. There are exemptions for those with certain medical conditions.

The policy was introduced to protect people living in care homes, who are among the most vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19.

Severe staffing crisis in care sector

But Unison has estimated that up to 70,000 care home workers in England may not be fully vaccinated by the 11th November deadline.

They say that this could put many care homes at risk of closure and that care agencies are already unable to provide emergency cover, creating a “severe staffing crisis,” for the sector.

Christine McAnea, General Secretary of the union, said:

“Everyone that can have the vaccine should have the vaccine, but the government has persisted with a heavy-handed approach despite warnings from care employers of the dire consequences.

“This move is damaging a sector already on its knees and undermining trust in the vaccine.”

She added that, if care providers struggle to fill roles vacated by unvaccinated staff, “the level and volume of care offered will be reduced,” and that the policy was “actively driving experienced staff away” from a sector already under immense pressure.

GMB national officer Rachel Harrison commented:

“Forcing vaccination of our key workers is not the way to address vaccine hesitancy.

“Care is already facing a staffing black hole of 170,000 by the end of the year. Even in a best-case scenario, we will lose tens of thousands of key workers if the jab is forced on them.

“How will care bosses deal with these huge staffing vacancies? How can they reassure people residents will receive safe care?”

Care workers feel ‘demoralised’

Meanwhile, David Kelly from workplace management app Deputy said the vaccine policy had left many care workers feeling “demoralised and undervalued.”

He added: “A number have explained they are not ‘anti vaxxers’ but have personal reasons for not wanting the vaccine, ranging from religious and cultural reasons, to health concerns.”

Supporting care staff with training and guidance

Skills for Care has grouped together vaccination guidance and advice from a number of sources to help aid employers in the care sector.

Their locality teams are also available to offer workplace support for local authorities and employers.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“This is a difficult issue for both care workers and employers. On the one hand, it is vitally important that vulnerable care home residents are kept safe and that they can be provided with high quality, compassionate and person centred care from the right people at the right time, without being placed at risk.

“On the other hand, vaccination is a personal choice and there are many reasons why someone may choose not to take up the vaccine or may be hesitant. The best that any organisation and any worker can do is to ensure they are properly informed, from credible, reliable sources, about the virus and vaccinations and that they are up to date with all key guidance and advice.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Self-isolation exemption for care staff poses ‘significant risks’

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has warned that a new exemption from self-isolation rules for double-jabbed care staff poses “very significant risks.”

In a press release, the directors’ body said the policy shift, which means that frontline adult social care staff who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine are not required to self-isolate after contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case, could bring further harm to those using services.

Changes to self-isolation guidance

The changes, which came into effect last month, mean that fully vaccinated care workers whose absence could cause significant risks to the health or safety of service users can continue to work even after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace or advised to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app.

Such workers can only ignore self-isolation guidance if they have no Covid symptoms and have received a negative PCR test. They must also have daily negative lateral flow tests for the required self-isolation period.

Staff must also comply with all relevant infection control procedures and should not work with clinically extremely vulnerable people.

The organisation’s management should also ensure that a risk assessment is carried out and authorisation must be granted by its lead professional for health protection or the relevant director of public health.

If, at any point, the staff member receives a positive test or starts to experience symptoms of Covid-19, they must stop working and self-isolate fully.

Temporary measure to alleviate pressures in care

The government introduced the change in guidelines as a temporary measure before the introduction of a general exemption from self-isolation rules for all fully vaccinated contacts from 16th August. It has been brought in to relieve pressure on care services that were dealing with high levels of self-isolation as a result of rising infection rates.

However, ADASS has said that, while it supports measures to alleviate the immense pressures placed on care staff, it had “concerns that this announcement presents very significant risks,” during a period of high and rising community transmission rates.

The association pointed out that social care staff “work with people who are the most vulnerable to Covid: older, disabled and mentally unwell people, among others.”

They added:

“These are the very people, alongside care (and NHS) staff who have suffered most through the pandemic. Our priority must be to absolutely minimise further harm.

“Our concerns are magnified by the fact that there has been an immediate change in policy with no prior warning, guidance and information about the change and how this can be introduced safely. The policy is intended to be applied on a case-by-case basis, and with a full risk assessment, but the absence of information and guidance raises the risk of blanket applications.”

Calls for urgent guidance and funding

ADASS have called for urgent guidance and funding to support the new policy, while public service union UNISON raised concerns that some “reckless employers” may pressure staff who have had contact with a confirmed Covid case to return to work when it is not appropriate for them to do so.

Christine, McAnea, General Secretary, explained: “If care workers who’ve been in contact with someone with the virus are pushed back to work without proper safeguards in place, the consequences could be dreadful.

“Everything possible must be done to ensure staff in hospitals and care homes don’t bring in the virus or take it home. That includes making sure they are fully paid when sick or isolating.”

ADASS also reiterated their call for urgent, long-term, fundamental changes to the funding of adult social care:

“Social care needs fixing. Care staff shortages, acute staff retention challenges, a low remunerated workforce, an avalanche of need rising from the pandemic – these underlying issues will only be addressed with a clear Government long-term plan to reform social care, one that gives local authorities sustainable funding, direction and capacity to truly transform lives.”

Further support and training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Care workers have taken risks during the pandemicTheir diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

First Response Training are a Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider for the delivery of classroom, e-learning and webinar training to the social care workforce.

As an Endorsed Provider, FRT have also recently been awarded grant funding to provide free Covid-19 Essential Training for adult social care workers, including Rapid Induction training for new starters.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a massive toll on health and social care workers and those who receive care and support services; they have been through so much and are still under tremendous pressure.

“Safe and sensible measures to help relieve this pressure and ensure everyone can receive the highest quality care and support are always welcomed, but it is important that the correct information, guidance and training is in place to safeguard health, safety and wellbeing at all times.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Skills for Care offers guidance on vaccination for care workers

Skills for Care is providing resources to help employers in the care sector to engage with their workers and provide guidance about wellbeing and Covid-19 vaccinations.

It comes as the government announced that they are planning to bring forward regulations that will make Covid-19 vaccination a condition of employment for those working in CQC-regulated care homes

The national workforce development charity says they understand that this policy will present a variety of challenges for care providers.

Variations in vaccine take-up

Data shows that there have been regional variations in vaccine take up across the care sector and Skills for Care acknowledges that there are many different views and opinions held by individuals working across social care organisations.

It is understood that the new regulations will apply to all individuals working in care homes in England that are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and which provide nursing or personal care. Certain medical exemptions will still apply.

The government are still planning to launch a further public consultation on whether or not to make Covid-19 vaccination a condition of deployment in healthcare and the wider social care sector.

If they come into force, the regulations will mean that care home providers can only deploy staff who have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccination.

If the proposed regulations are approved by Parliament, there will be a minimum of a 16-week grace period before they come into force to provide care workers who have not yet been vaccinated with the opportunity to take up the vaccine.

Guidance for the care sector

During this challenging time, Skills for Care has grouped together vaccination guidance and advice from a number of sources to help aid employers in the care sector.

Care workers have taken risks during the pandemicTheir locality teams are also available to offer workplace support for local authorities and employers.

It is important to remember that the regulations will remain under review to ensure that they continue to reflect the latest clinical guidance.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of Care, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Understanding Mental Health and many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“This is a difficult issue for both care workers and employers. On the one hand, it is vitally important that vulnerable care home residents are kept safe and that they can be provided with high quality, compassionate and person centred care from the right people at the right time, without being placed at risk.

“On the other hand, vaccination is a personal choice and there are many reasons why someone may choose not to take up the vaccine or may be hesitant. The best that any organisation and any worker can do is to ensure they are properly informed, from credible, reliable sources, about the virus and vaccinations and that they are up to date with all key guidance and advice.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Autumn Covid-19 booster jabs for over 50s

Vaccine experts have advised that more than 30 million people, including all adults aged 50 and over, should receive a third dose of a coronavirus vaccine ahead of winter.

Covid-19 booster jabs planned for autumnIt is understood that the NHS has started planning a Covid vaccine booster jab programme for the UK in anticipation of a bigger than normal flu season this year, meaning that extra protection against Covid will likely be required.

Interim advice provided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) states that booster jabs will help maintain protection against Covid-19 and new variants for the most vulnerable before the colder weather sets in.

Vulnerable groups set to get booster

The JCVI have recommended that the following groups receive both a Covid booster jab and a flu jab from September this year:

  • Adults aged 16 and over who are immunosuppressed or clinically extremely vulnerable
  • Residents in care homes for older adults
  • All adults aged 70 and over
  • Frontline health and social care workers

After those groups have been jabbed, the booster programme and flu vaccinations will be rolled out to:

  • All adults aged 50 and over
  • Adults aged 16-49 who are in a flu or Covid-19 at-risk group
  • Those living in the same house as people who are immunosuppressed

It is not envisaged that younger adults who are not in at-risk groups will be offered a third jab at this stage, as they are likely to have only received their second dose during the summer.

Safety first approach

Experts have advised that a booster programme would represent a ‘safety-first’ approach as it is as yet unclear exactly how long immunity lasts following vaccination.

The final advice, however, will be published before September when more data will be available regarding how long protection from two doses of a coronavirus vaccine lasts and the latest figures on hospitalisations, emerging variants and trials will also be reviewed at that point. This could alter the recommendations.

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, explained:

“We want to be on the front foot for Covid-19 booster vaccination to keep the probability of loss of vaccine protection, due to waning immunity or variants, as low as possible – especially over the coming autumn and winter.”

He said that other respiratory viruses, such as flu, will almost certainly “make a comeback” this winter after national lockdowns led to a decrease in such cases in 2020 and will likely have resulted in a drop in immunity.

He explained that the health sector will “need to ensure protection against flu, as well as maintaining protection against Covid-19.”

Restoring freedom

Meanwhile, the new Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said that ministers were working with the NHS to ensure the booster programme could be rapidly rolled out from September.

He said: “Our first Covid-19 vaccination programme is restoring freedom in this country, and our booster programme will protect this freedom.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and Prevention, Safeguarding Adults, Duty of Care and many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “The vaccination programme has been a wonderful success so far and the NHS have worked very hard to ensure that it was rolled out as quickly as possible to all those at risk. If further measures are needed to help ensure people remain protected, we should all be in support of that.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Covid-19 shielding ends for millions

Today (Wednesday 31st March 2021) marks the final day that millions of the most clinically vulnerable people in England and Wales are advised to shield.

Letters have been sent out to around 4 million clinically extremely vulnerable people over the last few weeks, advising them that they no longer need to shield at home. They are still advised to keep social contacts to a minimum, however, and to work from home where possible.

The changes to shielding advice have been introduced as national case rates, hospital admissions and deaths linked to Covid-19 have consistently fallen since the beginning of the third national lockdown and start of the vaccine rollout.

It is expected that restrictions in Scotland and Northern Ireland will be lifted later in April.

According to NHS Digital, there are 3.8 million shielded patients in England and 130,000 in Wales. They were advised to remain at home and take extra care to avoid catching Covid-19 as they are considered at greater risk of suffering serious symptoms and requiring hospital treatment.

Shielded patients include individuals who have had stem cell transplants, are receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer and adults living with chronic kidney disease.

February saw an additional 1.7 million people added to the shielding advice list, following judgments made by their GP or hospital doctor. All those shielding have been entitled to priority access to a Covid-19 vaccination as per the government’s priority list for the vaccine rollout.

Figures from yesterday show that 56 people died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test and that 289 more patients were admitted to hospital. The seven-day averages for each had fallen by 35% and 22.1% respectively.

Cases are not falling as quickly; a further 4,040 were reported yesterday, with the seven-day average showing a drop of 7.9%.

Boosting the outlook for the country is the fact that over 30.5 million people have now received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while nearly 4 million people have received both required doses.

The beginning of this week saw restrictions in England eased enough to allow people to meet outdoors in groups of 6 or two households and to enable outdoor sport facilities to reopen and weddings to take place again, with restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the nation of the potential for a third wave of coronavirus to hit our shores as cases are rising sharply on the continent.

Speaking at a Downing Street briefing on Monday he said it wasn’t possible to know “exactly how strong” the UK’s defences would be against such a wave, despite the unprecedented vaccine rollout.

He did say that he could not “see anything in the data right now that would cause us to deviate from the roadmap” for easing restrictions in England.

The next milestone will see non-essential retail, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality reopen in England on 12th April, if all conditions are met.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and more.

A trainer from FRT says: “It will be an exciting but also anxious time for millions of people who have spent much of the last year at home, isolated.

“People are still required to keep a safe distance from others and to follow all other restrictions and health advice in place, but hopefully this is the start of a route back to normal for all those people who have missed out on so much over the last year.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

1 in 4 frontline doctors seek mental health support

It has been revealed that a quarter of frontline doctors have sought mental health support during the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has published data showing that, after having faced one of the worst public health crises of the modern era, 1 in 4 doctors has sought mental health support – both informal and formal.

Released as part of the RCP’s eighth survey of its fellows and members, the data makes clear the pressures placed on frontline doctors during the Covid-19 crisis.

Of those who reported seeking support for their mental wellbeing, more sought informal mental health support (19%) rather than formal mental health support from their employer, GP or external services (9%).

While over a third (35%) of respondents said they did feel supported, the majority (64%) reported feeling tired or exhausted and almost half (48%) said they felt worried.

Keeping health workers safe should be a priorityThe Covid-19 pandemic in the UK has seen an already stretched NHS workforce placed under immense pressure, with burnout of staff then adding to the challenges faced by the health service. Many frontline health professionals have admitted that their work has negatively impacted their own health and mental wellbeing during the pandemic.

The RCP also found that, while 85% of doctors have received their first dose of a vaccine, only 16% have had two doses and a significant number (58%) are worried about having to wait 12 weeks for their second dose.

The President of the RCP, Professor Andrew Goddard, said that the experience of working in the health service is “pretty awful at the moment.”

He added:

“I am extremely concerned about the mental health of frontline doctors, who may be suffering from burnout and a feeling of not being valued. I’m not sure that before the pandemic many physicians would have contemplated that they might need formal mental health support in their career.

“Staff will be in desperate need of a break and will need specific time away if they’re to be at their best after the pandemic.”

He spoke of a need to address staffing levels in the NHS, explaining: “Doctors have demonstrated remarkable resilience throughout the pandemic, working under the most challenging conditions the NHS has ever faced, but they can’t continue working this way forever.

“Workforce shortages need to be urgently addressed post-pandemic if we’re ever to reduce the immense pressure on NHS staff and ensure that they are prepared and supported to get the NHS back on an even keel.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider.

They work with thousands of organisations from all industry sectors and throughout the UK to deliver a wide and diverse range of training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their range of mental health training courses includes the Level 2 Award in Understanding Mental Health, which is a full day, externally accredited course that includes a course companion manual and provides people with an in-depth understanding of mental health problems, recovery and prevention.

They can also provide courses in Anxiety Awareness, Anxiety and Phobias Awareness, Bipolar Disorder Awareness, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Mental Health Awareness for social care, Managing Your Stress, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

FRT can also provide trainers who are accredited to deliver Mental Health First Aid training courses, including Adult, Youth and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT explains: “The Covid-19 pandemic has left many scars – from medics on the frontline working under immense pressure and witnessing serious suffering and distress, to those who have lost loved ones and those who have struggled with anxiety or feelings of isolation and loneliness during lockdown.

“Now, more than ever, we need awareness, understanding and education about mental health to offer practical and emotional support to those who need it.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300, or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Teachers ‘not at significantly higher risk’ from Covid-19

New figures suggest that teachers are not at significantly higher risk of death from Covid-19 than the general population.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that care workers, restaurant staff, taxi drivers, security guards, nurses and people working in certain manufacturing roles were among those with the highest death rates.

Secondary school teachers, meanwhile, may have been at slightly higher risk than the average person, but not measurably so.

The ONS examined coronavirus death rates in England and Wales between 9th March and 28th December 2020. They found that 31 in every 100,000 working-age men and 17 in every 100,000 working-age women had died from the virus, equating to just under 8,000 deaths among those aged 20-64.

For teachers, there were 18 deaths in every 100,000 for males and 10 in every 100,000 for females.

Looking specifically at secondary school teachers, this did rise slightly to 39 deaths per 100,000 people among men and 21 per 100,000 among women.

This compares, however, to 110 in every 100,000 male care workers or 47 per 100,000 female care workers, as well as, among working-age men:

  • 119 in every 100,000 restaurant or catering workers
  • 106 in every 100,000 metal-working machine operatives
  • 101 in every 100,000 taxi drivers
  • 100 in every 100,000 security guards
  • 79 in every 100,000 nurses

High risk jobs?

Working-age people who died from Covid-19 in 2020 were much more likely to be male and to work in jobs where they were either regularly exposed to known Covid cases or where they were frequently in close proximity to other people more generally.

The data shows that the highest-risk jobs also tended to be relatively low paid and were also more likely to be casual or insecure, without the benefit of sick pay. This included, for example, care work, hospitality and taxi driving.

While teachers were not at higher risk than the general population, the figures do suggest they are at higher risk than those in some other professional job roles, which have seen very few or no deaths.

But teachers do not seem to have an elevated risk of the huge scale faced by health and care workers or by those in lower-paid manual and service roles.

It should be noted that the data does cover periods where there were limited numbers of children attending school. However, some groups of workers with significantly higher death rates also saw their usual working activities paused for periods of time last year, such as those working in the hospitality sector, or construction and factory workers.

Other risk factors

The figures demonstrate the death rates experienced in each occupation group, but do not indicate causality. The ONS looked at age and sex but did not adjust figures for ethnicity, health or socioeconomic status, which are all factors which might influence an individual’s risk from the virus, aside from their job role.

The study focused just on death rates and did not consider the rate of infections which may result in serious illnesses.

Early data did indicate that teachers may have an increased risk of contracting Covid-19, but the figures were again not high enough to be considered statistically significant.

An analyst from the ONS, Ben Humberstone, commented: “As the pandemic has progressed, we have learnt more about the disease and the communities it impacts most. There are a complex combination of factors that influence the risk of death; from your age and your ethnicity, where you live and who you live with, to pre-existing health conditions.

“Our findings do not prove that the rates of death involving Covid-19 are caused by differences in occupational exposure.”

Vaccination priority for teachers?

The Director of Policy for the Association of School and College Leaders teachers’ union, Julie McCulloch, said: “When trying to understand rates of coronavirus-related deaths, there are likely to be many complex factors and we need to be careful not to jump to conclusions about the relative risks of different workplaces.

“What we do know is that, when schools are fully open, education staff are asked to work in environments that are inherently busy and crowded. In order to give them reassurances, and to minimise the disruption to education, it is vital that they are prioritised for vaccination as soon as possible.”

The vaccination programme is currently being rolled out according to what will save the most lives and prevent the most severe illness.

The current priority list includes the oldest age groups, people who are clinically vulnerable and frontline care staff who are regularly exposed to the virus. Once these groups have received the jab, the government will need to publish a new priority list.

It has been debated whether teachers should be prioritised for vaccination and Nadim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, has suggested that people could be prioritised on the basis of their work, including teachers, retail workers and police officers.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services. Their courses include Health and Safety for Child Carers, Paediatric First Aid and Safeguarding Children.

A trainer from FRT says: “It is certainly good news that the data indicates that teachers are not at increased risk of death from Covid-19.

“We will have to wait and see what is decided about further vaccination priorities. For now, we sincerely hope that measures to contain the growth in coronavirus cases are successful and that case rates come down quickly so that children and teachers are able to safely return to school and the UK in general can look to move towards some return to normality.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Early Years groups call for vaccine priority

Early years groups are calling for nursery workers to receive the Covid-19 vaccine as a priority.

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (Pacey), Early Years Alliance (EYA) and National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) want mass testing to be carried out in early years settings, as well as vaccine priority for the early years workforce.

Calling for more all-round support for nurseries and pre-school settings during the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisations are also urging the government to reinstate early entitlement funding support for settings which have had to close, or have seen a fall in demand for funded places.

They also want targeted funding for providers, like childminders, who have suffered as a result of a fall in demand from parents.

Early years settings currently remain open during the third national lockdown, while schools across England are closed to all but the children of key workers and those who are vulnerable.

The move has prompted the Chief Executive of the EYA, Neil Leitch, to push back, saying: “It is simply not acceptable that, at the height of a global pandemic, early years providers are being asked to work with no support, no protection and no clear evidence that it is safe for them to do so.”

He added: “We know how vital access to early education and care is to many families, but it cannot be right to ask the early years workforce to put themselves at risk.”

The Chief Executive of Pacey, Liz Bayram, echoed his sentiments, saying: “We need better financial support, not just for settings that have to close, but for the many who decide to continue to provide services despite the risks and the significantly reduced numbers of children in attendance.

The Chief Executive of NDNA, Purnima Tanuku, added that early years providers “cannot be an afterthought for ministers.”

She said: “Now, they are the only part of the education sector fully open to all children and must be given priority.”

Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Officer for the UK, Chris Whitty, has explained that early years settings remain open “to allow people who need to go to work or need to do particular activities to do so.”

He also said that young children are considered to be “at very, very low risk of this virus relative to other ages,” and that the continued operation of nurseries and other pre school setting was “not a risk to the children.”

The Department for Education said all essential workers, including all education and childcare workers, had access to priority testing via the online booking portal.

They also reiterated that all those aged over 50 and in an at-risk group will be eligible for the jab within the first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

A spokesperson commented: “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has asked the Department of Health and Social Care to consider occupational vaccination in the next phase of the vaccine rollout.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services. Their courses include Health and Safety for Child Carers, Paediatric First Aid and Safeguarding Children.

A trainer from FRT says: “Early years workers do an amazing job and have been a lifeline for many parents during the pandemic. Their essential work activities help the rest of the nation continue working, whether from home or at work, and their efforts should be recognised and commended.

“We sincerely hope that measures to contain the growth in coronavirus cases are successful and that the vaccination programme is rolled out smoothly and quickly, so that everyone can start to feel safe again and we can look to move towards some return to normality.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

New Oxford vaccine rolled out to GP sites

It has been confirmed that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for Covid-19 is to be rolled out to hundreds of GP-led vaccination sites in local communities today.

Over 700 local vaccination sites, as well as another 180 GP-led sites, 100 new hospital sites, and possibly local pharmacy sites as part of a new pilot scheme, will be involved in administering the jab, with the stretching target of vaccinating 13 million people by mid-February.

It is hoped that all those in the top four priority groups will be vaccinated by this deadline, with most care home residents to have received the jab by the end of January.

It marks the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history.

The rollout of the Oxford vaccine to GP vaccination sites comes as the UK reported another 1,041 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test result, which is the highest daily death toll recorded since April 2020.

There were also another 62,322 cases of coronavirus recorded on Wednesday, which is the highest daily increase since mass testing started.

People in England are currently living under the tightest restrictions as a third national lockdown was imposed earlier this week in a bid to stop the NHS from becoming overwhelmed as coronavirus cases surged – thanks, at least in part, to the new more transmissible variant which has emerged in the UK.

Next week will see seven new major vaccination hubs start to operate across England, including in London and Birmingham.

The most vulnerable are due to be vaccinated first, as defined by a list of nine high-priority groups, totaling around 30 million people and representing 90-99% of those who are at risk of dying from a Covid-19 infection.

They are:

  1. Residents in care homes for older adults, and their carers
  2. Those aged 80 and over, and frontline health and social care workers
  3. Those aged 75 and over
  4. Those aged 70 and over, and those who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable
  5. Those aged 65 and over
  6. Those aged 16-64 who have a serious underlying health condition
  7. Those aged 60 and over
  8. Those aged 55 and over
  9. Those aged 50 and over

The Pfizer BioNTech jab, which was the first to be approved for use in the UK, has so far been administered to people aged 80 or over who are in hospital, frontline health staff and care home workers.

The first recipient of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was 82-year-old Brian Pinker, as it was initially rolled out to patients at selected hospitals. It is now being made available to thousands more vulnerable people at community-based sites across the country.

The Oxford vaccine can be transported and stored more easily than the Pfizer version, which means it can be more readily used to vaccinate people in care homes and individuals who are house-bound.

There are around half a million doses of both vaccine ready to be used this week, with millions more in the pipeline to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the vaccination of care home residents with the Oxford jab would “ensure the most vulnerable are protected and will save tens of thousands of lives.”

He added: “As our vaccination programme ramps up, I urge everybody to continue following the latest restrictions to keep cases low and protect loved ones.”

Around 650,000 people – almost 1 in 4 of those aged 80 or over – have been vaccinated since the first jabs were rolled out last month.

In Scotland, around 100,000 people have received a first dose of vaccine, with hopes that everyone over the age of 50 and those with underlying health conditions can be vaccinated by the beginning of May.

Meanwhile, in Wales, 35,000 people have received the Pfizer vaccine and 40,000 doses of the Oxford jab will be available in the coming weeks. In Northern Ireland, around 40,000 people have had their first dose of vaccine, with health officials saying that everyone aged over 80 will have been vaccinated within weeks.

First Response Training is a leading, national training provider. They deliver a wide range of training for organisations across all sectors and throughout the UK in the fields of first aid, health and safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their courses include Level 2 Awards in Infection Control, Health and Safety, Safeguarding Adults and more.

A trainer from FRT says: “The rollout of the vaccination programme is the good news that we have all been hoping for so long for. It will take time to vaccinate the most vulnerable people in society, and there are still challenging times ahead for us all but we can be grateful to the scientists for providing the light that will take us out of the darkness.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Care homes must be patient over Covid-19 vaccine rollout

Although care home residents are top of the priority list to receive the new Covid-19 vaccine, logistical issues mean there could be a delay in getting it to them.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has called for patience over the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19, which was approved for use in the UK yesterday (Wednesday 2nd December 2020) and could be available by next week.

Elderly people living in care homes, and the staff who support them, topped the priority list for vaccination, but the JCVI says the list is designed to be flexible.

They revealed that, as hospitals already have the facilities to store the vaccine at the required temperature of -70C, the very first vaccinations are most likely to take place there in order to prevent any doses being wasted. Likely recipients will be care home staff, NHS staff and patients.

The priority list for who will receive the vaccine first is suggested by the JCVI and decided by government.

Professor Anthony Harnden, Deputy Chairman of the JCVI, said the committee’s “clear remit was to decide on prioritisation groups” but it always understood “there were going to be vaccine product storage, transport and administration constraints.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added:

“We have advised in our statement that there is flexibility at an approach to this list according to what was actually feasible and logistical on the ground, so this is not wholly unexpected – but the clear list that we have drawn out is a list of priority in terms of vulnerability.”

Professor Harnden acknowledged that the delays in getting the vaccine into care homes would be disappointing for residents and their loved ones.

He explained: “I think just a very small degree of patience is required because I think we are at the forefront here in the UK.

“I think the very short-term practical difficulties of getting this out from a storage point of view should not let us all lose sight of the fact that these care home residents and their staff are our utmost priority – and it may well be possible to get the care home staff to be immunised within a local hospital setting.”

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been shown to offer up to 95% protection against Covid-19.

The UK has so far ordered 40 million doses, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people against Covid-19.

These doses will be rolled out as quickly as they can be made by Pfizer in Belgium, with the first load available next week and then “several millions” rolled out throughout December, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Despite this, the majority of the roll-out across the UK will take place next year and the Chief Executive of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens, has cautioned that it may not be until April 2021 when all those who are most at-risk have received the new vaccine.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and more.

Care workers have taken risks during the pandemicTheir health and social care range includes Infection Control, Health and Safety, Personal Care, Safeguarding Adults, Dementia Awareness, Duty of Care, Dignity in Care and many more.

A trainer from FRT says: “The announcement that the UK is the first country to approve use of the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19 is the good news that we really needed after a tremendously difficult year.

“Obviously there are still challenging times ahead, and we must continue to follow guidelines and be as safe as possible.

“Vulnerable adults in care homes and key workers will be waiting eagerly for this vaccine and we hope the logistics can be worked through to help them get it as soon as possible.

“At FRT we continue to offer safe training with our Covid-19 Secure Pledge that ensures we can help essential workers to stay up to date with key skills in a safe, supportive environment with stringent hygiene and safety measures in place.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.