SCORES of care home staff in Hampshire have been forced to leave their jobs after failing to have two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

It comes as the government's mandatory jab policy made it illegal for unvaccinated care home staff to work after midnight last Thursday.

Nationally, some estimates say 60,000 workers have been sacked due to not having the vaccine by the deadline, while care homes are short of 100,000 before the pandemic.

One Winchester worker who has left her post is Abbie Louis Luff.

Working at Abbotts Barton care home for eight years, she said her mental health has been impacted "massively" by the issue, and had to take two weeks' sick leave. "It all got a bit much. I was struggling to just have a shower" she said.

Miss Luff, from Andover, continued: "It was a struggle going to work. I've been called stupid. I've been called an idiot. I've had colleagues tell me I'd be personally held responsible for all residents dying."

Giving her reasons for not getting vaccinated, she said: "I think it’s new and it’s scary. No one knows the affects of it yet and I don’t want to be a guinea pig.

"I don’t feel anyone can make an informed decision because there hasn’t been one yet."

Explaining what the job meant to her, she said: "I just started to do a training nursing course and I have paid hundreds of my own money to get BCG vaccines and hepatitis A and B vaccines. The role meant a lot but it all went down the drain because I didn't want [this] one.

"They (fellow workers) were all really sad. I've gone up many job roles so I've climbed up quite a ladder. I've become one of the best employees there. My manager said it's like 'losing a member of the family'."

Another care home operator Barchester runs Flowerdown in Harestock. It said no members of staff have refused to have the vaccine unless for medical reasons.

A Barchester spokeswoman said: "Months ago we took the decision that staff working in a Barchester care home or hospital must be vaccinated and we have carried out extensive internal communication and engagement programmes with staff, as well as 1-1 support to encourage this.

"As a result we have seen strong uptake and positive engagement with the Covid-19 vaccination. We are pleased that all staff across our homes in Hampshire are vaccinated, with the exception of those who are medically exempt. Those staff with valid medical exemptions will operate with enhanced PPE."

Mark Aitchison, chief executive of Colten Care, which runs Abbotts Barton on Worthy Road and St Catherines View on Stanmore Lane, said: "All good care home providers will have wanted to do right by their staff and avoid facing the loss of valued team members because of non-vaccination. People who work in care homes are typically loyal, committed and caring, and their work is a fundamental part of the fabric of our society.

"There is no greater example of that than in the amazing efforts to keep residents safe and happy, day in and day out, since the start of the pandemic. For our part, while abiding by this piece of legislation, we have done everything we can to support individual team members through what has been a very difficult period."

St Cross Grange care home has been contacted for a comment but refused at this time.