Claudia Webbe has urged the government to grant permanent residency to migrant NHS workers and their dependent family members, and highlighted that several of the health workers to have died from coronavirus were first generation immigrants.
The Labour MP for Leicester East wrote to the Home Secretary today, describing how the health crisis has shown the “undeniable contribution of migrants to our society” but how for many, their future residency in the UK is unsure.
She also said that if a migrant NHS worker dies their family members should receive full pension and death benefits, and has urged the Home Secretary to scrap the NHS surcharge for all health workers and their families.
Webbe said: “Over 13% of all NHS staff are migrants, including 28% of doctors and 16% of nurses. Of these, there are a significant number of NHS workers, and their families, whose future residency in the UK is not secured.
“In the current system, if an NHS worker tragically dies due to work related illnesses, the future of their dependent family members living in the UK is not guaranteed. This means vulnerable individuals could face deportation whilst grieving for their loved one.”
At least 13 of those NHS workers to have died from Covid-19 were first generation immigrants. The first confirmed hospital frontline worker to die after testing positive for the virus, Dr Amged El-Hawrani, was born in Sudan for example.
She added: “For many migrant NHS professionals, the stress of potential ill health, and even death, is compounded by the fact that their family members are not guaranteed a future in the UK. This reveals both the heroism of our NHS workers, and the cruelty of the current immigration system.
“It does not seem fair or just to expect migrant NHS professionals to risk their lives for a country in which their dependent family does not have a permanent future. I urge the government to take this opportunity to honour the dedication and sacrifice of all NHS workers, no matter their country of birth.”
A cross-party group of more than 60 MPs wrote to Priti Patel last week, urging her to grant indefinite leave to remain to migrant health workers, and recognise that “those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it”.
The Home Office has announced an automatic 12 month extension of visas for health workers from October 1st, but MPs have said that this does not go far enough. The first four doctors to die from the virus were born overseas.
There are now a total of 103,093 confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, but given low levels of testing in the population the true figure is thought to be much higher. So far, there have been 13,729 confirmed hospital deaths in relation to Covid-19.