DARLINGTON’S MP does not acknowledge Covid vaccine mandates as being the reason behind more than 100 staff leaving care homes in the town since they were introduced.

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.

Read more: Data shows staff leaving care homes since jab mandate - Darlington is hit hard

NHS England data has revealed that since July 18 – days before a 16-week “grace period” for care workers to get their first jab started – and January 2, there were 106 fewer people working in care homes in Darlington borough.

This is around three times the number who left in County Durham, 30, and North Yorkshire, 32 over the same time frame.

Across England, care home staff numbers dropped by 17,000 over the same period, leading to some pointing the finger at the vaccine mandate as the reason behind the staff exodus.

But Darlington’s MP Peter Gibson said that it could not be proven that it was the reason without seeing figures from a comparable time-frame the previous year.

He said: “There is always going to be a turnover of staff in organisations and we know that is the case.

“It is part of the natural cycle of things in the provision of services.”

He said he backed the government’s decision to introduce the vaccine mandate as a measure to try and keep the most vulnerable in society safe from Covid.

He said: “If you ask anybody, ‘do you want your elderly resident in the home where they live or the establishment they are cared for in, put at risk by the people who care for them?’

"I think the answer to that is ‘no they don’t’.”

Mr Gibson said that private sector care homes need to improve wages if they want to attract more staff, adding that Darlington is a town ‘full of opportunities’ for jobseekers and that staff shortages weren’t confined to the care sector.

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He said: “There is a shortage of people in a whole host of jobs and professions and sectors right across the country and we have more than 4,000 people in employment more than when the pandemic started, but we have still got millions of people who are economically inactive.

“So there are tremendous opportunities for people out there to get into employment and there are some great schemes out there to encourage them back to work.

"There is competition in Darlington from a whole host of employers, taxi drivers, distributors like Amazon, they are seeking to recruit staff; that is the nature of employment in Darlington at this time."

Across England, 95 per cent of older adult care home workers have received two doses of a Covid jab.

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

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 a recommendation 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 jobs where there are shortages.

Experts say care providers are experiencing high vacancy rates and turnover, and pressure on staffing is being exacerbated by the spread of the Omicron variant.

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