An MP has called for all non-British people working on the frontline of the Coronavirus crisis in the NHS to be granted citizenship if they want it.
Arfon’s Hywel Williams has written to the UK Government’s Home Secretary with the request. Around 25% of UK hospital staff were born overseas figures according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The Plaid Cymru MP said that the British Government previously granted the Gurkhas British citizenship for their contribution to defending the UK.
“Many key workers are facing unprecedented difficulties, from the lack of personal protective equipment to the drastic surge in patient numbers,” Hywel Williams says in the letter.
“Sadly, the fast spread of the virus has tragically already claimed the lives of many healthcare workers.
“Despite their valiant efforts, many key workers who do not hold British citizenship, from doctors to hospital cleaners and from nursing home aides to paramedics, are still living in perpetual uncertainty about whether they can stay in the UK permanently. To add insult to injury, they also face exorbitant application fees.
“This pandemic has shown that immigrants are a vital part of our society and our economy. It is therefore crucial that the UK Government recognises the scale of sacrifice and commitment that key workers are making.
“The UK Government granted the Gurkhas British citizenship rights for their great skill, courage and dignity during some of the most difficult times in history.
“The coronavirus pandemic is no different. I hope that you will consider this request carefully and give immediate, free citizenship to all key workers who have applied, thereby granting them the honour and recognition they deserve.”
The call comes as the Welsh Government have been ured to review the disproportionate impact Coronavirus seems to be having on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people.
The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) said Wales should take steps “very quickly” after the UK Government set up a similar review.
Data from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) has suggested that 34% of critically ill coronavirus patients are from BAME backgrounds.
Prof Keshav Singhal, chairman of BAPIO Wales, said authorities needed to find out why these communities may be disproportionately affected.
“The end point is to mitigate this worrying trend,” he told BBC Wales.
“We know that certain risks are very high. So, a male, middle-aged BAME with concurrent diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, is absolutely high risk – putting them on the front line is almost condemning them to a certain death.”