Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Home Affairs, Alistair Carmichael MP, has today responded to reports that the Home Secretary Priti Patel intends to increase visa fees for a range of foreign workers including healthcare workers, labelling the plans “short-sighted” and “irresponsible”.
The Home Secretary is considering removing the UK from part of the European Social Charter that gives citizens of 26 countries a £55 discount on application fees for most worker visas, including those in the healthcare and charity sectors, entrepreneurs and seasonal workers such as fruit pickers. There are fears that the change will make it harder for the NHS and other organisations to get the support they need.
Commenting, the MP for Orkney and Shetland said:
“Perhaps the Home Secretary has been distracted by her own controversies but there is a pandemic on. It seems astonishing that she would even consider placing new barriers for healthcare workers at a time when we are more aware than ever of their vital role due to the pandemic. The Conservatives already slapped one “Nurse Tax” on people coming to work in our NHS. Now Priti Patel wants to add another.
“Making it harder to recruit the healthcare workers we need would have appeared short-sighted even before the pandemic. To suggest such a policy change now is nothing less than irresponsible. Priti Patel is yet again placing anti-EU ideology ahead of the national interest.”
“Healthcare workers from around the world have been vital in keeping the heart of our NHS beating both before and after the pandemic. We should be encouraging the best and brightest to come work in our health service – not finding new ways to scare them off.”