BAPIO campaigns for change to visas rules for Adult Dependent Relatives
No grand ‘parent’, no family
BAPIO has joined hands with the British Medical Association, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Association of Pakistani Physicians of Northern Europe in association with legal firm, Trent Chambers solicitors, to change the existing adult dependent relatives (ADR) regulations. Together these organisations represent around two- thirds of registered medical practitioners in the UK.
Immigrant doctors constitute a third of the NHS workforce and have dedicated their lives to the NHS. Indeed, migrant healthcare professionals form a fifth of the NHS workforce and are vital to the NHS. Yet for many, leaving elderly parents behind in their native countries has been heart wrenching particularly during the pandemic. The existing ADR rules have put an immense emotional burden on them, depriving them of the ability to discharge their filial obligations. We have found harrowing personal stories resulting in distress, anxiety as well as disruption to the careers of these doctors. Some of them have been lost to the NHS as they have been forced to move back into their home countries and many chose countries such as Australia, Canada or the US who have a more humane approach as regards to the immigration rules. The lost ‘professional capital’ of many of these doctors is affecting an already stretched medical workforce with a direct adverse impact on patient safety.
A BAPIO/APPNE survey carried out in August 2020 provided a powerful snapshot of the adverse impact of these rules and the distress caused. A staggering 91% of the respondents reported having feelings of anxiety, stress and helplessness due to this issue. Nearly 60% felt that this adversely affected their work and professionalism and 80% have thought about relocating.
We believe that change in the application of rules will improve patient care by reducing disruption from unplanned emergency trips as well as by helping to recruit the best talent and retaining the brightest.
We are therefore campaigning for the government to adopt a more humane and compassionate approach to immigration rules for this group of people by allowing a more flexible approach to the existing rules.
Dr Ramesh Mehta, President of BAPIO, states “The sheer stress of our NHS workers here having to battle with Covid-19 is hard enough without them having to worry about elderly parents thousands of miles away. No family should be without a grandparent, wherever that is possible. I know of several senior doctors who have been faced with dividing their time between their front line work and having to tend to elderly parents sick with Covid in India. The best reward they can get is for the government to do the right thing here and make the rules flexible”.
Dr JS Bamrah, Chair of BAPIO feels strongly that there is an urgent case for the Home Secretary Priti Patel to review the regulations. He said, “Too often immigrants fall into a second tier and in this case, there is a real necessity on compassionate grounds for the government to allow NHS staff to bring their elderly parents to the UK to meet their needs”. Dr Lakshman, NHS consultant paediatrician, said: “There are a number of elderly and ailing parents who are living alone unsupported and suffering in their final years directly as a consequence of their son/daughter having moved to the UK. Covid-19 has put them in an impossible dilemma and caused immense stress to the health professional as well as their parents. A change in rules will demonstrate the government truly values these health professionals who have given so much to the NHS not least in this time of Covid and show compassion for elderly relatives too”.
Ms Usha Sood, barrister, Head of Trent Chambers, commented: “The 2012 Immigration rules led to an oppressive and inhumane tightening of UK migration rules, denying entry to elderly parents of migrant doctors, leading to separations at times of crisis, including at terminal stages. Denial of family union is a breach of their inherent Article 8 rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. Family presence and support gives them positivity and moral strength which helps with their longevity and well-being. This campaign is about the right to physical and moral integrity as well as the absolute right to life and dignity.”
Dated 14 January 2021
– END –
Notes for Editors
British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) is a non-political, national, voluntary medical organisation that supports members and other healthcare professionals through education, training, policy making, and advocacy work. Since its inception in 1996, BAPIO has actively promoted the principles of diversity and equality. Over the years the Association has grown in stature and influence. It is represented through active Divisions covering all the English Regions as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is now one of the largest organisations of its type in the country. BAPIO is committed to ensuring that the NHS provides the best patient outcomes. By promoting professional excellence and leadership, BAPIO adds value in enhancing the skills of the medical workforce. BAPIO also contributes to the cause of promoting access to better health care globally and responds to aid victims of natural disasters in the world.
Please contact: BAPIO Office