The Home Secretary said they will be given indefinite leave to remain in recognition of their loved ones’ “ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of saving the lives of others”. The scheme was initially set up for NHS workers such as doctors and nurses treating people with the deadly virus.
But it was later expanded to cover thousands more staff battling to control the spread of the disease.
Around 8 per cent of social care home workers are from outside the EU, while many more work as hospital cleaners, porters, security guards and catering staff who are regarded as key workers but do not qualify for the bereavement scheme.
Ms Patel said: “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.
“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.
“We want to ensure families have the support they need and so this will be effective immediately and retrospectively.”
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Ms Patel yesterday confirmed carers and low paid NHS workers, such as porters and carers, would not be included in the free visa extensions.
Ministers announced in March that 2,800 doctors, nurses and paramedics would have them extended for one year, free of charge.
But the Home Secretary wrote: “We recognise that every individual working in and to support the health and care sector is playing a crucial role in the UK’s efforts to tackle coronavirus and save lives.
“This offer is for key frontline health workers and follows guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care as to which workers should be included.
“We are determined to give the social care sector the support it needs to respond to Coronavirus and continue to work closely with Public Health England to monitor the impact on care homes.
“But the disparate nature of the social care sector makes it a unique challenge.
“The Government is showing its support and gratitude to this sector in a number of different ways, including providing additional funding for adult and children’s social care and through a recently launched national recruitment campaign.
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“Many of them are risking their lives for the sake of all of us.
“Does the prime minister think it’s right that care workers coming from abroad and working on our frontline should have to pay a surcharge of hundreds – sometimes thousands of pounds – to use the NHS themselves?”
But Mr Johnson said he had “thought a great deal” about this issue, given his own experience of being cared for by nurses from oversees when he was in intensive care with coronavirus.
He told Sir Keir: “I do accept and understand the difficulties faced by our amazing NHS staff and, like him, I’ve been a personal beneficiary of carers who have come from abroad and, frankly, saved my life.