The UK Government has been urged to hand indefinite leave to remain to health and social care staff amid warnings of a “psychological and financial” burden on Britain’s key workers.
Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine is urging ministers to act and offer “security and reassurance” to those who put their lives on the line during the pandemic.
Speaking to The Scotsman, the Edinburgh West MP claimed failing to do so could see the heroes of the pandemic face expensive visa costs or even being deported.
Ms Jardine, who has tabled a Private Members’ Bill in a bid to see the ambition realised, said: “So many of us have so much to be thankful to our NHS and care workers for in this pandemic that it seems the most appropriate way of saying thank you, to say to those who are here on visas, and want to stay and contribute, yes of course you are welcome.
“When the pandemic was at its worst and the daily death toll was frightening, many of those at most risk in the NHS and care sector did not, at any time, shrink from the threat to their own wellbeing.
“Now that many of them who have lives here, make an invaluable contribution to our society and want to stay, it is surely unreasonable to ask them to come up with the expense of visa costs or face the threat of being deported.”
Earlier this year it was announced that NHS and social care staff would have their visas extended by one year, but Ms Jardine insisted this was not enough.
She explained: “They are here legally, have worked hard, saved lives and made an astonishing contribution to getting this country through the worst pandemic and economic crisis in recent history.
“Without them the burden on our NHS and care sectors would have been so much heavier for everyone.”
The UK employs 170,000 non-British individuals from more than 200 countries in the NHS, making up 14 per cent of all NHS staff.
One of these is Dr Krizun Loganathan, who worked in a busy intensive care unit during the first wave of the Covid pandemic.