Granting indefinite leave to remain to health and social care staff would “send out a message that we recognise, value and appreciate the work that so many people have done for all of us”, a Lib Dem MP has said.
Christine Jardine argued such a move “would be a small way to recognise and celebrate the enormous contributions that people from all over the world make to our NHS and to our society”.
The MP for Edinburgh West said the Government “has not yet done enough either for those born and brought up in this country or for those who have come here to work, for all those working in our NHS for the past year, there must surely be more recognition and thanks for putting themselves in harms way”.
Ms Jardine paid tribute to the efforts of NHS and care staff during the coronavirus pandemic stating: “It is time we recognised properly the contributions that have been made.”
She spoke about the Government’s one-year visa extension for around 3,000 health and care staff with visas due to expire before October 1, adding: “But why just 3,000 why just for a year? Why not everyone, why not indefinitely?”
She said: “The idea that anyone who has worked so hard to save lives during this emergency, put themselves at risk, might one day be forced to leave should be unthinkable.
“And have we asked ourselves what will happen to the standard of care in this country if they’re forced to leave?
“Where will we find the staff we need, the doctors, nurses, porters, care home workers if another wave hits and thousands of our valuable workforce have been forced to leave because we did not have the foresight, the compassion to help them to stay.
“This country, all of us will be the losers, our colleagues, our friends, our family.
“That is why the Liberal Democrats and other parties are fighting to give all existing health and care staff from other countries the right to stay in the UK with their families and that is why I am introducing this private members bill to grant them and their families the right to settle here without the costs or the bureaucratic hurdles that that usually involves.”
Ms Jardine’s Immigration (Health and Social Care Staff) Bill was listed for a second reading on Friday, October 30, but is unlikely to become law due to a lack of parliamentary time.