The government is to make coronavirus vaccinations compulsory for care home staff who work with elderly and vulnerable people, Whitehall sources say.

Ministers are also considering extending the policy to all NHS staff, a proposal which has previously been criticised by some groups representing nurses and doctors.

The government will open a consultation on Wednesday requiring vaccination as a condition of employment for all health service workers in an attempt to reduce transmission in hospitals, sources add.

The full plans are expected to be formerly announced by ministers in the coming days.

The move would mean compulsory vaccination for most of the 1.5 million people working in social care in England, despite concerns having been previously raised that it could lead to some leaving the profession.

It comes as ministers look to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in care homes and hospitals by staff who are infected as cases of the Delta variant are rising in the community.

There have also been concerns about the uptake of the vaccine from those working in the care sector, with the latest figures suggesting more than 50,000 carers remain unvaccinated.

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Some legal experts have previously suggested that compulsory vaccination could be challenged as a breach of European human rights law or equalities legislation.

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Care home workers and families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, have disputed Matt Hancock’s handling of the pandemic.

Under the proposals, care home workers will have 16 weeks to take up the offer of the jab or face losing their roles, reports say.

There have been more than 40,000 deaths involving COVID-19 in care homes in England during the pandemic to date.