Embassy of the Philippines
Press Release – July 2007
AMBASSADOR ESPIRITU TAKES UP CUDGELS FOR FILIPINO SENIOR CARERS AND ENCOURAGES ONLINE PETITION
Philippine Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s Edgardo B. Espiritu has raised the evolving issue of the non-renewal of work permits of the senior carers with Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, MP.
Ambassador Espiritu told Secretary Smith that “On behalf of the thousands of Filipino carers who have given so much to the British health sector, I seek your urgent and measured intervention in the process and thereby assure our people that they have not misplaced their trust on the system. Right now, their collective prayer, which I have humbly taken on the privilege of bringing to your attention, is simply for those who are already in the UK to be allowed to renew their work permits as long as their employers have a position for them and are willing to engage their services.”
The Embassy obtained a copy of an internal memorandum being circulated by the Southern Cross Healthcare, one of the largest independent care providers with more than 500 care homes, that advised senior carers who have less than 5 years stay in UK that their work permits will not be renewed when its due date falls because of a policy shift in the Home Office.
Ambassador Espiritu said that during the past two (2) years the Embassy has actively participated in the consultations conducted by the Home Office on the forthcoming changes in the UK’s migration policy to one of managed migration with a points-based system of qualification. Ambassador Espiritu informed Secretary Smith that “At every point, we were assured that efforts will be taken [by the Home Office] to have the policy changes transparent and prospective, not only in approach, but also in application.”
The UK Government recently announced that after months of consultations with business, trade unions, embassies, NGOs and other stakeholders that it start the roll out of its points-based managed migration policy by 1 January 2008 beginning with the Highly Skilled Migrants category. The category under which senior carers could fall was not expected to be in operation until middle of next year.
Ambassador Espiritu added, “It now seems that the summer of discontent and anxiety has begun for many of our senior carers. They feel terribly let down. And many of their patients and employers share this feeling and their worries on what the near future holds for them.”
The Embassy has continued to advise those that felt affected by the apparent policy shift to continue open discussions with their employers (the care homes) as the latter have sole legal standing in the British system to lodge a work permit application as well as its renewal. At the same time, the Embassy has assured the senior carers that it will actively pursue the advocacy of their cause with the British Government, the employers and the public.
The Ambassador has also been informed of an ongoing online petition and he encouraged all those who care about the issue to log on at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/SaveCarers/. Ambassador Espiritu remarked, “It is fantastic to know that a lot of people truly care for the carers!”
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Immigration Matters Comment
We are delighted that Ambassador Espirtu has publicly voiced his support for the Filipino senior care workers in the UK and hope that other Embassies and organisations will follow their example.
The Philippine Embassy is extremely well informed and works tirelessly behind the scenes to help Filipino overseas workers including: carers, nurses and domestic workers.