DOZENS fewer people are working in Bolton care homes after the introduction of mandatory Covid vaccines according to new figures.

NHS England data shows that 45 fewer people were recorded as working in the borough's care sector at the start of 22 than had been on July 18 last year, which was days before a 16-week "grace period" for care workers to get their first jab started.

As such, care sector leaders claimed action needed to be taken to avoid a "staffing crisis."

Charity care provider MHA chief executive 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."

According to the data 1,877 people were working in older adult care homes across Bolton on January 2, the most recent date for which figures are available compared to 1,922 on July 18.

Across England, the number of staff in older adult care homes dropped by 17,000 over the same period.

In response, the Department for Health and Social Care said £462.5 million had been provided for recruitment and retention across the country, and the department was working with the care sector to encourage booster uptake.