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Covid vaccine fury as care home boss admits giving jab to friends – Birmingham Live

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/covid-vaccine-fury-care-home-19602448

Precious doses of coronavirus vaccine earmarked for frontline staff at a care home were given to family friends of the owners, triggering a complaint.

But Sarjit Bisla, owner of The Gables care home in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield, denied any impropriety during the vaccination rollout visit by a GP on Saturday.

He said the two family friends given the doses had been volunteering at another home he runs during the pandemic and were entitled to the vaccine.

“The reality was we had a very small window to take an opportunity,” he claimed.

He confirmed the recipients were not employees but had been helping his organisation, unpaid, and so were called to take up doses after attempts to contact off-duty staff living nearby failed.

The incident, though only involving a very small number of vaccine doses, provoked fury among frontline staff who care for the home’s older residents, many with dementia.

One claimed they were not told vaccinators would be at the home on Saturday for the pre-arranged visit, and were ‘disgusted’ to learn the owner invited people who did not officially work for the organisation to take up doses.

The carer, who would not be named, said: “We are massively upset. I have been here and through all this hell for a year now and it looks like they chose their own friends above us, the staff who work here.”

Mr Bisla denies that claim.

The Gables care home, Walmley, Sutton Coldfield
(Image: Darren Quinton/Birmingham Live)

The carer added: “It is very very demoralising. I am worried about my position at work if I speak up but this needs to get out, it is just not right at all.”

Mr Bisla also confirmed a complaint had been made by a whistleblower today, Monday, January 11, to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) linked to the incident.

The whistleblower claimed the visitors to the home did not follow care home protocols and entered without first undergoing a rapid test as part of lockdown measures.

Mr Bisla confirmed they did not take a rapid test before entering ‘because of the time urgency involved in getting the vaccines done’ but said their temperature was taken and health checks done.

He confirmed he had outlined what happened to a CQC inspector during a call this morning.

The Gables care home, Walmley
(Image: Darren Quinton/Birmingham Live)

“We did call everybody at the home, all the members of staff, when we knew we had a few extra and that was the first port of call,” he said.

“We then went down the list of who we know were employees and volunteers and I went down who was local and could come in and have a jab.

“I did not make the calls myself but that’s what happened.”

He added: “We want to get everyone vaccinated this week, all the staff, but we are waiting for the full details from Public Health England on that.”

Staff living nearby disputed they were contacted and claimed they had checked their phone records. One told us: “I would have been there like a shot.”

Mr Bisla also confirmed just two of the staff on duty that day in the 24-bed home wanted the vaccine when offered.

One staff member additionally told BirminghamLive: “A lot of the staff said they didn’t want the vaccine yet, they wanted to see how the first people getting it react first, which I don’t understand at all.”

The Covid vaccination centre at Millennium Point in Birmingham, offering jabs to the masses
(Image: Darren Quinton)

Mr Bisla confirmed neither he nor his wife Gurinder, registered manager of the home, took up the offer themselves. They did so to leave doses for others, he said.

The whistleblower told us: “It was really demoralising, to hear both that a vaccine had been on offer and we were not called, and that people entered the home without taking a test who are not part of our regular testing regime.

“Our relatives cannot come in to visit and that is heartbreaking and devastating for them.”

We asked Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group, who are overseeing the vaccination programme locally, about the case.

They told us: “While it would not be appropriate for us to comment on individual cases, it is important to note that all care homes are notified and booked in advance by the GPs who are providing the vaccination service in their area, to ensure the necessary arrangements are made in advance and compliance to strict infection prevention measures.

“GPs will only vaccinate those people in the current priority groups, this includes care home staff.”

It’s the latest complaint about apparent ‘injustices’ in the first phase of the vaccine rollout from those desperate to get the added layer of safety it brings.

Our report last month that city MP Khalid Mahmood had got a jab by joining a queue for leftover vaccinations at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital provoked anger because he was neither over 80 or a health or social care workers – the only people at the time identified as priority cases.

The MP, 59, is in priority group 4 as a result of a kidney transplant which means he is clinically extremely vulnerable.

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