The Scottish National Party (SNP) has ramped up pressure on the UK Government to reverse its plan to exclude frontline carers from its new health and care visa. This exclusion could significantly undermine efforts to tackle a second wave of coronavirus, which scientists fear could happen this winter. The new immigration system is set to come into force on 01 January.
The health and care visa - described as a “con-trick” - will be open to overseas workers with a confirmed job offer within the NHS Scotland or care sector such as doctors, nurses and paramedics. However, frontline care workers and contractors will be excluded, and the minimum salary threshold.
The GMB Union and CEO of Scottish Care, Donald Macaskill, have criticised the plans, describing them as an “embarrassing shambles” and a “slap in the face for the care sector.”
The SNP has urged Tory MPs to get behind calls to protect social care in Scotland.
Commenting, Patricia Gibson MP said:
“This system discriminates against the key workers we have relied upon during this pandemic and risks undermining Scotland’s care sector.
“The much-hyped ‘health and social care visa’ is quite frankly a con-trick and a kick in the teeth for the care sector after their vital contribution to saving lives and tackling the virus. Home Secretary Priti Patel MP must reverse her plans to exclude frontline care workers from the visa immediately and either reduce the minimum salary threshold or ensure they are added to the shortage occupation list.
“If this system had come into effect before Covid-19, we would face an even more challenging battle against coronavirus. Indeed, it could come into effect whilst we are in the middle of a second wave, leaving the care sector struggling to recruit in the middle of a global health pandemic and essentially placing lives in danger. This is a clear indictment of Tory recklessness and their refusal to value the people we rely on most in time of need.
“I urge Tory MPs who represent Scottish constituencies to grow a backbone and get behind these calls to protect people in Scotland.
“If the Tories refuse to U-turn on these disastrous plans then Scotland must have the powers to design our own immigration system; one that will not cripple key sectors in the middle of a health crisis.”
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