SCORES of people have stopped working in York’s care homes since Covid vaccinations became compulsory, new figures have shown.

The news comes as a care provider organisation warned that the care of our oldest and most vulnerable is on the edge of meltdown as the staffing crisis robs them of the help and support they need.

Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group (ICG), said: “If we could, as a sector, we would declare a state of emergency in social care. Of the two years we have gone through with the pandemic, this is the worst point in terms of continuing to deliver care.

“We have been warning for months that the staffing situation was becoming critical but have yet to receive any proper support.

“Now we see evidence that care is being rationed, providers are having to limit what they offer and vulnerable people are suffering.

“That is our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and friends.”

NHS England data shows that 1,468 people were working in older adult care homes across York on January 2 – the most recent date for which figures are available.

This was 71 fewer than the 1,539 recorded on July 18 – days before a 16-week “grace period” for care workers to get their first jab started.

It is unclear how many workers left as a result of the mandatory vaccine policy.

The NHS data shows 1,423 workers at older adult care homes in York had received two Covid jabs by January 2 – 97% of staff employed on that date, and up from 1,362 on July 18.

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

Rules set by the Government last year stated care workers in England needed to have at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by September 16 to continue working, and two doses by November 11.

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.

The Government has announced it is relaxing immigration rules to make up for “severe and increasing difficulties” with recruitment and retention in the care sector but care providers say it will be some months before older people feel the benefit of the changes.

Vic Rayner, chief executive of the National Care Forum, said it was "imperative" that all organisations will be able to use the scheme "at speed".

She added: “At present it is complex, and organisations currently using it for wider roles recognise the financial and bureaucratic burdens inherent in the system.”