Devastated mum Holly Higgins, 28, claims she is medically exempt after being told she needs to be vaccinated to keep her job at Appleton Manor care home in Manchester – but bosses disagreed
Image: Holly Higgins)
A mum who claims she has always refused injections is planning to take a care home to an employment tribunal after being “unfairly” sacked.
Holly Higgins told bosses she wouldn’t get the Covid-19 vaccine but they said she either had to back down or lose her job.
The 28-year-old, a healthcare assistant at Appleton Manor in Bredbury, Manchester, for almost four years, says she should have been medically exempt following the announcement of the mandate.
She submitted proof of various medical issues to her employees before the government deadline, the Manchester Evening News reports. But her pleas fell on deaf ears – and she is now out of work with Christmas fast approaching.
The parent believes working through the pandemic led to her developing a number of health problems and she wants to take the matter further.
She said: “I’ve had my heart ripped out – I’ve had to leave the residents I’ve looked after for three and a half years. I feel so worthless.
“I feel like we weren’t valued at all throughout the pandemic.
“And now to be last year’s heroes and this year’s unemployed – it’s totally unfair.”
She believes she now has asthma and allergies after working as the pandemic raged – issues she never suffered from previously.
Holly, who also suffers with anxiety, says being allowed exemption from the vaccine was denied.
She continued: “I had a meeting in August as I was the one who wasn’t vaccinated. I suffer from anxiety so became distressed in the meeting and they didn’t care.
“They told me if I didn’t have the vaccine, I would be dismissed. I suffer from anxiety so became distressed in the meeting and they didn’t care.
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“They said to try and get something off the GP to prove I had asthma and other health issues.
“I see it as it doesn’t really matter about vaccination status as you can still catch it and transmit it regardless. I’m going to try and tribunal it.
“All of this is causing stress and anxiety to my life. I haven’t signed anything in my contract to say I’d have a vaccine.
“I’ve refused the flu jab every time I’ve been there. I just don’t have any injections so I’m not going to make an exception for Covid. What’s the point when you can still catch it.
“A vaccine doesn’t make you the person you are today. It’s whether you care or you don’t.
“Why it’s a level of requirement now – it’s bonkers.”
A spokesperson for HC-One, who run Appleton Manor, said: “Our purpose is to be The Kind Care Company, supporting our residents to lead their best life with care from our experienced and passionate Colleagues.
“Our homes need to be safe and open to visiting so that residents and their families can come together as they wish.
“We can’t miss any opportunity to make this happen, which is why we announced in July that the Covid-19 vaccine would be a condition of employment for all HC-One employees across the nations.
“This was the responsible step for us to take to protect the people we care for, as well as our colleagues, as the evidence clearly shows that vaccination cuts transmission and substantially reduces the risk of hospitalisation.
“The introduction of the Government’s legislation in England on 11 November means that HC-One now also has a legal duty to ensure that all colleagues in our homes across England are either fully vaccinated or have a valid medical exemption in line with the Government’s guidance.
“Since the vaccination programme started, we have worked tirelessly to support colleagues to choose to be vaccinated, and are pleased with the high vaccination take up we have seen in all our homes.
“Since the mandate was announced, we have made every effort to explain the consequences to colleagues who choose not to be vaccinated, and who do not have a valid medical exemption.
“We have engaged at length, including on a one-to-one basis, with colleagues and their representatives to understand their individual reasons for not receiving the vaccine.
“We expect to lose a small proportion of colleagues who have chosen to remain unvaccinated without qualifying medical exemptions.
“We expect this number to be less than 500, from our colleague population of over 20,000. Our HR and Resourcing teams have been working hard with homes over recent months to anticipate any vacancies as a result of this requirement, so that we can ensure our homes continue to be adequately staffed, enabling us to provide continuity of care to residents.”