A care home company has said staff need to have had the first dose of the vaccine by April 23.

Barchester Healthcare will also not be hiring any new staff who refuse to take the vaccine for non-medical reasons at Alice Grange Care Home in Kesgrave.

This no jab, no job policy, to force current and new staff to have the vaccine, has been implemented across the firm - including at Oulton Park Care Centre, near Lowestoft, and Woodland View Care Home, in Colchester.

A Barchester spokesperson said: "Following staff engagement and a full risk assessment, we have introduced a new policy in which we expect all staff to have had the vaccine by April 23, although we are prepared to delay that date if there is any data regarding safety, efficacy or effect on transmission which requires further review.

"We have set out a number of acceptable exemptions, and exempted staff will operate with enhanced PPE.

"Our long-term ambition is that all patient and resident-facing staff will have the Covid-19 vaccine in order to protect both themselves and the vulnerable residents and patients in our care.

"We are very aware of concerns around possible discrimination, which is in no way our intention.

"We are doing everything possible to ensure fairness, whilst also delivering on our duty to protect our residents, patients and staff.”

In total, 92% of Barchester residents and 90% of the care company's staff have had their first dose as of March 29.

To increase the uptake, online question and answer sessions with virologist Professor Nicola Stonehouse have been held so staff can ask about the efficacy of the vaccine, the impact it has on transmission of Covid and its safety.

"As a result, almost all staff have either had the vaccine or are now preparing for it," the Barchester spokesperson added.

"We’re further encouraged by the research from Public Health England showing the effectiveness of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines in reducing hospital admissions by more than 80% among the over-80s."