The Liberal Democrats are supporting the call by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists in asking the Government to honour the contribution of all foreign born allied health professionals during the Covid-19 crisis by ensuring they are included in the Government’s auto-visa extension scheme.
The majority of the 150,000 Allied Health Professions, such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, radiographers and speech & language therapists, are currently excluded from the government’s auto-visa extension scheme. This scheme was meant to recognise the pressures on frontline staff from overseas, who are fighting to keep people safe from COVID-19.
The Liberal Democrats are already leading a campaign to say “loudly and unequivocally, that those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it”. The party has secured cross-party support within Labour, the Conservatives, the SNP, the Greens and Alliance for their campaign to ensure foreign born health professionals working during the Covid-19 crisis nationals have the right to remain.
Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said: “The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat, and NHS staff, social care workers and other health professionals are on the frontline. Every single day they are putting themselves in harm’s way to keep us and our loved ones safe.
“It’s good that the Government extended visas for NHS workers, finally recognising the enormous contributions people from all over the world make to our health service. Now they must do the same for the tens of thousands of social care workers and allied health professionals from overseas.”
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine added: “Priti Patel may consider social care workers ‘low-skilled’ and believe that we can do without those who’ve come from other countries, but this crisis has demonstrated how wrong she is.
“The idea that the Home Office will force anyone who’s worked on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis to leave the country or charge them thousands of pounds to stay is absurd.
“The Government should grant them and their families indefinite leave to remain – or at the very least extend their visas as they have for NHS staff.”