The government's attacks on immigration and the public sector are an attack on us all, writes psychologist and member of KONP’s NHS Staff Voices, Alia Butt
The Conservative government has been at it again this week, with its steadily growing attacks on immigration and the public sector. Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a new points-based immigration system, effectively ending free movement and shutting out what the Tories are calling ‘unskilled’ workers.
The legislation suggests that workers earning less than £25,600 will not be allowed entry into the UK. The government is hoping to bring the ‘brightest and the best’ from around the world through an employer/institution-led route. Patel asserts that these individuals will ‘need to speak English’ and have a certain level of qualification, but claims that this policy is less racist than it appears on the basis that it opens up the immigration system to the rest of the world and is therefore less discriminatory than before.
The Home Secretary admits that her policy, if in place some years ago, would have prevented her parents from being able to enter the country.
She also warns that the policy will ‘cut off the legs of the music industry’, with artists having to cancel tours and putting small venues at risk of closure.
What isn't mentioned is that the policies proposed, especially plans to close the borders to ‘unskilled’ workers, will have a huge impact on the quality of the NHS and social care, bringing the country closer to breaking point.
Under this particular legislation, ‘unskilled workers’ includes paramedics, midwives, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and many other vital health professionals! Current vacancies on the NHS jobs website for ‘unskilled’ workers include: radiotherapy practitioner radiographer (cancer care), community staff nurse, senior officer - medicines optimisation (pharmacy), staff nurse - psychiatry, dietician, and the list goes on.
The term ‘unskilled’ worker is being used to bamboozle the public, having us believe we are preventing those who are less useful within our society. In reality, the term ostracises a huge proportion of highly skilled but poorly paid public sector workers who have spent years in training, learning incredibly valuable skills that are vital for the British economy and people.
A Government advisory group estimated that 70% of EU workers wouldn’t be allowed entry into the UK under the new rule.
Many of us who work hard to keep the NHS afloat would not even exist had it not been for immigration - our parents met in England post migration, a soon-to-be impossibility. We currently have 44,000 nurses missing from our wards, a number forecast to rise to 100,000. Alongside this, we have had record numbers of nurses quitting in 2017/18 due to ever increasing workloads and pay caps. We have had a 30% reduction in the number of nursing degree applications, which can be attributed to the scrapping of NHS bursaries.
The Home Secretary suggests that staff shortages, which are set to increase through her Government’s policies, can be dealt with by training the 8.5 million who are currently ‘economically inactive’. But the vast majority here includes those who are retired, in education, carers and people who are either physically or mentally unable to access work.
The Prime Minister's recent deportation tirade, attempting to remove many immigrants who have in fact helped build the NHS, is abhorrent. Such individuals are deserving of respect and dignity with a right to remain in their home country, irrespective of the incredibly valuable contributions they have or have not made to society.
The government’s recent propositions are not just an attack on the immigrant population, but impact on everyone. Policies such as these must be opposed. In order to have any chance to counteract these increasing injustices, both in the UK and around the world, we must unite in our common aim.
Join us in campaigning for the NHS and against such policies and legislation, which will multiply under this government, escalating inequality even further.
You can follow the NHS Staff Voices page on Facebook here.
This article appeared originally on Counterfire.org