Worcestershire care homes have lost “hundreds” of staff since the mandatory vaccine rule came into effect.

The government informed care workers in England that they needed to have at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by September 16 2021 to continue working, and two doses by November 11 2021.

On July 18 2021, days before a 16-week “grace period” for care workers to get their first jab started, NHS data showed that 5,870 workers were recorded across older adult care homes.

This number has since fallen to 5,670 people as of the latest findings published on January 2 2022.

The move was in response to the high number of deaths in the care sector during the pandemic but was widely criticised, among fears of an "exodus" of care staff.

It is unconfirmed as to how many workers left as a direct result of the vaccine policy.

The latest NHS data also shows that 5,467 workers at older adult care homes in Worcestershire had received two Covid jabs by January 2 2022, showing a significant rise from 4,657 on July 18 2021.

The Government announced it is relaxing immigration rules to make up for “severe and increasing difficulties” with recruitment and retention in the care sector.

It follows advice from the Migration Advisory Committee that care jobs be made eligible for the health and care visa, designed to help migrants get work visas to fill job shortages.

Chief executive of MHA, the UK’s largest charitable care provider, Sam Monaghan, said: “Essential care and support for older people is facing a staffing crisis the likes of which we have never seen before.

“The changes to immigration rules are a very welcome step forward in addressing the ongoing care staffing crisis.

“However, it will be some months before older people feel the benefit of these much-needed changes."

The Department for Health and Social Care said that new starters can be deployed to care homes 21 days after receiving one dose of the vaccine and are further required to get a second dose within 10 weeks.