Earlier last week the Government announced that social care workers would be excluded from the new Health and Care Visa and the entire “skilled worker” route with the implementation of points-based immigration system.
Following this announcement, Cllr Runciman, the Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, has written to the Home Secretary to condemn this decision and urge the Government to introduce a sector-specific visa route enabling international recruitment into social care to address the worrying staffing shortages facing the sector.
Writing to the Home Secretary, Cllr Runciman said:
“During the last 4 months we have all seen the selflessness and professionalism of our frontline workers, who have risked their lives in order to protect ours. This is why I was disappointed to learn that instead of acknowledging and rewarding care workers, who have been at the forefront in our efforts to combat Coronavirus, the Government has decided to exclude them from the proposed Health and Care Visas.
“It is worrying that such a decision be made despite repeated warnings from local authorities, the social care sector and the NHS’ own representative bodies about workforce shortages facing the sector.
“As we prepare to enter what could be the most challenging winter in recent history for health and social care, the Government should not generate a new crisis by deepening the uncertainty around workforce shortages. A sector-specific visa route must be introduced urgently to enable continued international recruitment into social care.”
On the staffing shortages facing the care sector, Cllr Runciman commented:
“Our care system is heavily reliant on staff from across the world. By classifying social care workers as ‘low-skilled’ and imposing arbitrary salary thresholds on foreign workers entering the country, this Government continues to ignore the significant challenges faced by the care sector, therefore putting the future of the entire health and care system at risk.
“The new points-based immigration plans fall short of what is required to meet the workforce needs of the social care sector and risk generating a new crisis in a sector that has been under significant pressure during the coronavirus epidemic.
“All care workers are highly skilled and invaluable members of society and should be treated as such. That is why I have written to the Home Secretary to urge this Government to act now and ensure that the care sector will not be pushed to its breaking point.”