Government blasted for ‘shameful’ false claim about helping Ukrainian NHS staff


The Health Secretary has been branded “shameful” after he falsely claimed Ukrainian NHS staff were covered by the government’s refugee scheme.

Sajid Javid on Monday said a Ukrainian on a work visa employed in the National Health Service could bring their family to the UK.

But the scheme is not open to those in Britain on a work visa, and the opposition says the government has “repeatedly refused” to help the families in question.

Mr Javid was quizzed over the hole in provision for those fleeing the Russian invasion on Monday Morning and appeared to flounder.

Asked about Ukrainians on work visas in the NHS, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

“In the situation that you just gave, a Ukrainian living in working here, you will be able to bring their family here into the UK under the extended family scheme.

“And that scheme is already up and running. It will be made a lot easier and a lot simpler from tomorrow when it will become a online only process.”

However, the conditions of the scheme as laid out on the government website say it covers only British nationals, EU nationals, people with settled status or permanent residence, or refugee status themselves.

Asked whether he was sure, because the government’s website said the opposite of what he was claiming, Mr Javid instead said another not-yet-launched scheme could be of assistance.

The government is today expected to announce a hosting scheme whereby British nationals will be able to sponsor Ukrainians coming to the UK.

But it will still not give Ukrainians living in Britain on work visas – including in the NHS – the automatic right to having their family join them.

“Well, what I can say for sure is that under the hosting scheme for anyone that is living in Britain they can host a Ukrainian family,” Mr Javid told the broadcaster.

“There’s two separate schemes and and I think taken together these schemes will mean that anyone, whether they have a relative in the UK or not, will be able to get safe passage and sanctuary in the UK. These are two very broad schemes.”

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Sajid Javid said on the Today programme that Ukrainian NHS staff on work visas can bring family to UK under Family Scheme.

But the government’s website says no. Their families are still being turned away. The government has repeatedly refused to include those families. Truly shameful.”

The department for health and social care, which Mr Javid leads, has been contacted for comment on this story.

Britain has stood out among European countries in not offering an open door policy to Ukrainian refugees – with the government coming in for international criticism.

At the start of the week French interior minister Gerald Darmanin, wrote a strongly-worded letter to his British counterpart Priti Patel, accusing the UK of a “lack of humanity” for not opening its doors.

Ms Patel announced more measures to relax biometric checks on Thursday but Labour has said the measures will still result in delays. The opposition says emergency protection visas should be introduced, though it has also stopped short of calling the UK to emulate the UK’s open door policy and waive visas entirely.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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