Immigrant NHS Staff Get Visas Extended – But Care Workers Left Out

"This does feel very unfair to care workers given that the deaths in care homes now are rising substantially," Yvette Cooper says.

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Immigrant NHS midwives, radiographers and other health professionals will have their visas automatically extended for a year to help the fight against coronavirus, the home secretary has announced.

The move by Priti Patel extends the scheme announced last month to give NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics automatic visa extensions to ensure the health service is at full capacity.

Social care staff employed by the NHS in “defined occupations” will also have their visas extended.

But Patel did not extend visas for the vast majority of care workers who work outside the NHS, arguing the “disparate” nature of the field presents a “unique challenge” in determining people’s immigration status, while promising to keep the situation “under review”.

There was also no visa extension for porters, cleaners, students and agency staff working for the NHS.

In total approximately 3,000 vital health and care workers and their families will benefit from the extension.

But Commons home affairs committee chair Yvette Cooper said the measures were “very unfair” given deaths in care homes are rising and health secretary Matt Hancock wants to give care workers the same status as NHS staff.

The Labour MP told the committee: “This does feel very unfair to care workers given that the deaths in care homes now are rising substantially, and also the health secretary said he wanted to give care workers parity of esteem.

“It also feels very unfair to the porters and the cleaners and hte people who are scrubbing the virus off the door handles or who are washing the bedding and the gowns in our hospitals as well, that they aren’t included in this NHS visa extension.”

Responding, Patel insisted the Home Office did not want to segregate different groups of workers.

“We are conscious right now of the status of all NHS professionals, I think we should just be very, very clear about that,” she said.

“This is not about segmenting or discriminating against anybody who works in the NHS.

“I’m in daily discussions with the department for health and social care, as is the department (Home Office) as am I directly with the health secretary and that is exactly why we have brought the measures that we have brought in so far.

“We review everything, everything is under review.”


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