New UK immigration rules will exclude some NHS workers and the majority of social care staff

Home Secretary Priti Patel has unveiled how a new points-based immigration system will operate from 1 January next year.

Matt Bodell
13 July 2020
Hospital cleaner theatre operation

The new health and care visa provides a fast-track route for ‘skilled workers’.

The majority of social care workers and some NHS workers will not qualify for a new health and care visa under new UK immigration rules, Downing Street has confirmed.

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Home Secretary Priti Patel has unveiled how a new points-based immigration system will operate from 1 January next year.

The new health and care visa will provide a fast-track route for health professionals wanting to work in the UK – but the majority of social care workers will be excluded from applying.

A minimum of 70 points are required and they are awarded for working within an eligible profession, already having an offer of employment, meeting a minimum salary threshold, and being able to speak English to a certain level.

The decision to exclude social care workers from the list of eligible and skilled professions has led to heavy criticism in the wake of the COVID-19.

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Earlier today, a report from Amnesty International revealed that at least 540 health and social care workers have died of COVID-19.

An embarrassing shambles.

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, said:  “Once again, we are disappointed to see the Government’s plans for the UK’s future immigration system falling short of what is required to meet the workforce needs of the health and social care sectors, now and in the future.

“The Government is ignoring our concern that we need an appropriate immigration route for social care workers. Arbitrary salary thresholds will prevent key workers from working in the UK, which will directly impact patient care.

“The pandemic has revealed how reliant the NHS is on good social care and vice versa – they cannot be viewed as separate services. The care system has been heavily reliant on international staff, and the proposals continue to ignore the significant risk to this sector, and therefore the entire health and care system across the UK.”

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Rehana Azam, GMB National Secretary, added that the new rules are an “embarrassing shambles and makes no consideration or acknowledgement of the vital job care workers have been doing these past few months.”

“The proposed ‘Health and Care Visa’ apparently fails to include care workers and NHS contractors within its scope – and imposes salary thresholds that would prevent most underpaid care workers and many NHS porters, cleaners, and other support staff from qualifying for in any event.

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