AS the Government prepares to make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory for care staff, figures have revealed nearly 15 per cent of those working in care homes across Dudley have not had a jab.

Figures published by NHS England show 2,142 staff in Dudley's care homes (85.6 per cent) have received at least one dose of the vaccine - with 360 workers eligible for the jab (14.4 per cent) remaining unvaccinated.

While in Sandwell of the 2,269 care home staff who are eligible for the jab - 1,910 have been vaccinated (84.2 per cent of the workforce).

Staff are eligible to receive the vaccine if they have not had Covid-19 in the previous 28 days, according to the data which covers vaccinations up to June 6 of eligible staff in older adult care homes.

Going forwards it will become compulsory for care home staff to have the Covid vaccine, the government announced this week, and Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb said she "strongly supports" the new policy.

She told the News: "The vast majority have done so but I feel that those who do not could potentially endanger their colleagues and very vulnerable older people.

"There is also a precedent for this as hospital trusts stipulate doctors should have a Hep B vaccination. This is common practice within the NHS, although I accept it is not the law.

"I simply have to agree with the chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, who said doctors and care workers have a "professional responsibility" to protect their patients, and right now that means a Covid vaccination.

"I do understand concerns about homes losing staff who do not want to be vaccinated but that should not be a prime consideration when there is so much danger from unvaccinated workers in care homes."

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, Dudley Council's cabinet member for health and adult social care, said the local authority has not become aware of any concerns about significant changes in staff exiting the care industry although recruitment during the pandemic has proven more challenging.

Cllr Barlow said the council has been working with and supporting care homes in the borough to promote vaccination uptake and overcome any concerns among staff and he added: "We are pleased with the response of staff and are hoping that all staff are vaccinated in the near future."

There are currently no active outbreaks of Covid-19 in residential and nursing homes in the Dudley borough, he said, and the death rate was now returning to "broadly pre-Covid levels" although occupancy in care homes remains lower than before the pandemic.

He added: "The council is extremely grateful to all staff working in social care throughout the pandemic and for continued efforts to provide care and support.”

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there have been 89 Covid related deaths in Dudley's care homes this year - up until June 4.

The figure is not far off the entire coronavirus death toll in the borough's care homes for the whole of 2020 during which time 100 care home residents passed away with Covid-19 given as a cause of death on their death certificates.

In Sandwell 66 people died in care homes in 2020, with Covid listed on their death certificate, and 38 have died this year in 2021.

MP Ms Webb said care homes had been hit incredibly hard by the coronavirus pandemic and she added: "All deaths in care homes are terrible and my heart goes out to a anyone who has lost a loved one. There is no doubt these homes were on the frontline of the early stages of the pandemic.

"What happened will be subject to a public enquiry in due course. My view is that testing, PPE and, most importantly, the vaccination programme are doing a great deal to protect all care homes residents."