Christine Jardine’s Bill to give NHS staff right to stay in the UK to be debated on Friday

Our NHS is under more pressure than it has ever been. As I write, brave nurses, doctors, cleaners, porters, health care assistants are putting in superhuman effort to keep people alive, to comfort them and their families when they can’t and to treat more critically ill people than they have ever had to at the same time before.

And all the time taking the risk that they could be next to be lying there struggling to breathe.

It’s exhausting. And it comes after many of them bust a gut during the first wave. Then they barely stopped to rest before trying to catch up with the routine procedures and tests that they had not been able to do.

After ten months of relentless pressure, many are at breaking point. They are seeing suffering on a scale that they had not imagined.

Every day on my social media, I hear about at least one person who I actually know in real life being admitted to hospital.

As I think of them and hope that they will soon be restored to good health, I think about the stressed health professionals and support staff treating them.

Many of those staff are not UK nationals. Those who aren’t EU citizens with the protections of settled status have the hellscape of our horrendous immigration system to navigate. Every so often, their visas will have to be renewed. That is a hellishly stressful and expensive process.

If you came in to the country on a spouse visa, that will set you back £1500. And you’ll have to pay it again to renew it after two and a half years. You also have to pay £624 PER YEAR in NHS surcharge.

So, that’s nearly 5 grand for the first five years. Then you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. That will set you back another £2400.

We’re at pretty much £7,500. On a nurse’s salary? Are you having a laugh? And if you have kids who are not UK nationals, you have to pay for them too.

Right from the start of the pandemic, Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine has been trying to get the Government to give indefinite leave to remain to healthcare staff and their spouses and children.
This week, her Bill is debated reaches its next parliamentary stage. It says:

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Indefinite leave to remain

    1. (1)  An eligible person has indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.
    2. (2)  The Secretary must, on request from an eligible person, issue physical documentary proof of that indefinite leave to remain as soon as reasonably practicable.

(3) No fee may be charged for issuing a proof under subsection (2)./ol>

Simple. The right to stay for free for those who have been braving the pandemic, taking that risk, and their families.

Here she is introducing the Bill back in September:

The party has released a campaign video and we can expect more in the next few days:

Please help and share.

And if you have your own story to tell about how you have been helped by NHS staff or if you are a nurse or doctor yourself and support this Bill, let us know. We want to tell your story.

This should be an easy ask for the Government. After all, neither of the nurses Boris Johnson credits with saving his life were UK nationals. He should understand more than most why this Bill is necessary.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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7 Comments

  • The £624 annual NHS surcharge you refer to was scrapped last year.

  • @ John Oundle I was under the impression that Johnson promised to scrap it last May, but like so much of Johnson’s hot air it hasn’t happened.

    “Forcing NHS staff to pay health surcharge up front ‘wrong and unnecessary’, warns BMA By Nick Bostock on the 2 October 2020

    NHS staff recruited from overseas will continue to pay an ‘absurd’ health levy despite government promises that they would be exempt, in a move doctors’ leaders say is ‘wrong and wholly unnecessary”.

    Incidentally, I understand the original levy of £ 400 was introduced by the Lib-Con Coalition back in 2015…… I’m afraid another example of a Lib-Dem own goal on basic Liberal principles back then, and another case of, “It’s not me, Sir. It wos a big boy wot dunnit”.

  • Helen Dudden 10th Jan '21 - 12:58pm

    I had a Polish Carer before she returned home. There are those who will work in Care Homes and as Carers. She was extremely hard working.
    There are many immigrant bus drivers, who have kept our buses running, and some lives have been lost there. I think Polish bus drivers are well know.
    At this time when we are all struggling does it make sense to implement bringing in this action. It will make hospitals and Care Homes, even more short staffed.

  • Thank you for this bill that is covering all NHS staff from different categories, the NHS is all one unit and one system that all its elements complete each other , a doctor cannot perform without nurse, pharmacist, radiologist, cleaner, Porter, clinical coder, discharge administrator and even a hospital receptionist and analysts and Information Technology people who support with information all of them work the whole day and some on shifts to operate the system. Without all elements together a clinical treatment won’t be completed, this is why the Liberal Democrat and other party members who support this bill are very well informed to present a bill that covers all NHS workers and we are grateful to you for being inclusive.

  • You may not have to pay if you come on a Health and Care Workers Visa, @johnoundle. However, if you come as a spouse and then go and work in the NHS, it looks like you do still have to pay. https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/who-needs-pay

  • Nonconformistradical 10th Jan '21 - 5:30pm

    It was quite widely reported a while back that, in contrast to UK treatment, France was fast-tracking citizenship for immigrant Covid workers e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/15/foreign-covid-workers-in-france-to-be-fast-tracked-for-nationality

  • This bill is necessary because the UK health and social care system has been scandalously reliant on workers trained overseas, often by countries with fewer resources than ours, for too long. If there is a net flow of expertise in health and social care, it should be from wealthy countries to poorer countries, not the other way round. If we value “our” NHS (and our social care systems), we should learn a lesson from our current situation and train many more health and social care professionals in future.

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