For most of us NHS workers who have come from overseas, studying hard and getting a job “abroad” is something our parents dream about and are very proud of.
Unfortunately though for us who came to the UK 15-20 years ago, what we did not realise is this very dream, would be what separates us from our parents later on in our lives.
When we came here our parents were that much younger, there were no grandchildren in the picture. Now however they are older and should be spending time with their grandchildren to complete the circle of life.
I came to the UK in 2004, I did my GP training here, I met my Welsh husband here and now we both work as GP’s and have two young children in Aberystwyth. The pandemic and my parents both turning 70 brought to sharp focus how much immediate family play a role in our lives. They could not simply get on a plane due to the various lockdowns and of course they are getting more frail with time.
So I did research on how to bring my parents permanently over to live with us, assuming that as I was now a British citizen, I would simply need to provide evidence of funding for them and and arrange their move here. I was dismayed to find on a quick google search that such a policy does not exist for the UK! This presented a moral dilemma to me, unlike I have ever known before. I felt like I was being asked to choose between looking after my patients, my family and my parents.
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA all have provisions, albeit with conditions/criteria to be met, which recognise them as parents/grandparents and have routes in the forms of sponsorship/super visa ( Canada); longer stay visas/sponsored parent visa/parent visa ( Australia);
parent retirement resident visa ( New Zealand) and parents of US citizens can apply to be Green card holders, as the law gives special consideration to immediate relatives of U.S citizens, which includes a U.S. citizen’s spouse, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and parents.
My plea to you all is we have come here to look after you, please let us look after our own. We look after your parents, please let us look after ours. As one of my BAPIO (British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin) colleagues said, “It is not an equitable society if some British citizens cannot look after their parents, while others can.”
I am very grateful for the support of BAPIO and DAUK (Doctors Association UK), who are now working together on this. They have emailed, phoned, texted on numerous occasions to try and highlight the inhuman nature of this (non-existent) policy.
It was discussed in a Westminster Hall Debate on 3rd of November 2021, however Rachel Maclean, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department said that “the NHS has made significant savings since the rules were introduced. The 2016 report notes that once assumptions were taken into account, the figures suggested potential NHS savings of around £249 million over 10 years”.
She also said that “We fully understand that such cases provoke strong feelings, as Members have articulated, and they can result in difficult choices for individuals, but it is essential that the rules are fair and balanced for the taxpayer, given the significant NHS and social care cost that can arise when those adult dependent relatives settle in the UK. Failure to maintain that balance puts the legitimacy of the entire system at risk.”
I cannot be as “rational” her as though, as these are my parents you are talking about. I am willing to fund them, insure as necessary so that they are not a burden to anyone. My children want, actually, no I would go as far as to say they need to know them. So my only question to Ms Maclean would be, “What would you do about your parents if you were in my position?”