The UK government has announced an extension to a recently introduced support scheme for the families of overseas NHS staff, who lost their lives to Covid-19. Known as the Home Office Bereavement Scheme, the initiative automatically grants indefinite leave to remain to those who have lost family members to Covid-19 while working for the NHS.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has now announced an extension to this scheme, extending its provisions to cover porters, cleaners and other support staff. When the initiative was first introduced, it applied exclusively to doctors, nurses and other select professions within the NHS.
“Every death in this crisis is a tragedy, and sadly some NHS support staff and social care workers have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of saving the lives of others,” said Ms Patel.
“When I announced the introduction of the bereavement scheme in April, I said we would continue to work across government to look at ways to offer further support,”
“Today we are extending the scheme to NHS support staff and social care workers.”
Under the new terms of the Home Office Bereavement Scheme, the right to remain in the UK permanently will automatically be granted to families and dependence of all NHS workers who lost their lives after contracting Covid-19.
The official guidelines from the government (now updated) read as follows:
- “If you’re a non-EEA family member of any NHS worker, including support staff, or a healthcare or social care worker who has died as a result of coronavirus, you will receive immediate indefinite leave to remain, free of charge.”
- “Your family member must have been working for the NHS in any role or working for an independent health and care provider, including the social care sector.”
- “You do not need to do anything to receive this status. UKVI will contact employers to identify those eligible and will arrange for you to be issued with indefinite leave to remain.”
- “However, if you think you should receive this status, you can contact the UKVI NHS team.”
The initial decision to exclude low-paid NHS workers like cleaners and porters immediately drew widespread criticism and was labelled a “stab in the back” by furious NHS workers.
“NHS staff like porters and cleaners, and social care staff, should never have been excluded from the bereavement scheme in the first place,” argued Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds.
“Now the government also has to change its stance on charging NHS and care staff from overseas to use our NHS. This hypocrisy must end.”
Compensation Payment Complications
Meanwhile, recent figures published by the Department of Health and Social Care suggest that less than 20 families of NHS and social care workers who lost their lives to Covid-19 have received approval for the government’s promised £60,000 compensation payment.
Just 19 approvals have so far been granted, despite figures suggesting that more than 540 families in England and Wales are currently eligible for the payment.
“It is concerning that so few families of NHS and care workers who tragically died on the frontline against coronavirus have so far benefitted from this scheme,” commented Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran.
“The government must ensure more is done to promote awareness of this scheme to eligible families,”
“No amount of money could ever compensate for any loss of life. But we must honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and provide security and comfort for their families.”
Independent Legal Support
Individuals with questions or concerns to address regarding their eligibility for indefinite leave to remain and/or compensation payments from the government are being advised to seek expert legal support at the earliest possible stage. Particularly if your claim has been rejected or delayed without a valid reason, a qualified legal representative can help you understand your rights and entitlements.
For more information or to discuss any of the above issues in more detail, book your obligation-free consultation with a member of the team at Aristone Solicitors today.