The debt that the NHS and the Country owes to immigrants

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I was so pleased to see Dr Shiv Pande MBE recognised in an article in the i-newspaper for his service to our City and our Country

I was delighted to be reading a copy of the i-newspaper yesterday to see a big piece about the contribution made by immigrants to our NHS which featured our own Dr Shive Pande MBE.

I have known Shiv for many, many years and he has been a wonderful addition to our Health Service and through his inter-faith work to the City as a whole. He worked for 30+ years as a GP in the Kensington area; helped do all sorts of things with his beloved game of Cricket; and is a leading member of the inter-faith group which has helped heal some difficult faith differences over the years.

Shiv is by no means alone and the dependence on immigrants is by no means over. The Government has had to relax its own rules on immigration because visas were being turned down for people who had been given jobs that no-one else could fill. In Greater Liverpool we have a huge Kenyan community almost all of whom are connected with health issues as Consultants or act in other ways in the Health Service.

Look at the wards and the GP practices. 10% of our medical practitioners at all levels come from the EU and a further 10% from other parts of the World. They do jobs, in many cases, that Brits could do but don’t want to do. Approximately 10% of all posts in the NHS are vacant with the number rising as people from the EU decide not to come or decide to go home because of the uncertainty.

Exactly the same situation exists in social care. There is a 30% turnover of social care staff throughout the UK every year. With the supply of temporary migrants being cut we are facing the closure of residential care homes because we cannot get the vacancies filled. If we paid a decent wage it would help but the supply of people dedicated to the care of others is limited. Off on a tangent, as ever, we also cannot get our strawberries picked!

So that is why I get very angry when I hear that immigrants are using up our health services and stopping good Brits being treated. This statement is simply c++p! Many immigrants are young people and go home. They pay their taxes to keep services going but often go home before they reach an age where they might need to use them. If they decide to stay here they pay their taxes for years (although we did not pay for their education) and are as entitled to use the services as anyone else.

The Government tried to pretend over the weekend that they were going to put more than £20billion of new money in to the NHS some of which was a Brexit dividend. That, of course lasted less than 24 hours as independent forecaster after independent forecaster pointed out that there is no financial dividends from Brexit. Indeed, tax revenues are decreasing; jobs are going and we have had the worst year for investment in the UK economy by foreign companies since the financial crash 10 years ago.

But even if we had all the money that we wanted and call for it will be useless if we don’t have people to be employed.

Can I just give you some sage advice? Don’t get ill and don’t get old. Pray that when your end comes you die in your sleep after a nice day with the family and pray that you do not have a child born with a serious illness who will need medical and social care for the whole of their lives. Be absolutely aware that whatever politicians promise there will be no money to pay for our health needs and no staff to deliver them.

So, Shiv and all your colleagues from S E Asia who came to our Country 50+ years ago. I thank you and salute. I hope that all those people whose lives you have helped over all those years remember the part that an immigrant played in their lives and will welcome others into our country to serve them and their children.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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