How the government changed policy on NHS cleaners and carers after Ben Kentish's question

21 May 2020, 11:45 | Updated: 21 May 2020, 14:05

James O'Brien congratulated LBC's Ben Kentish on persuading the government to change their policy on support for the families of NHS workers who die from coronavirus.

NHS porters, cleaners and social care staff had been excluded from the Home Office scheme, granting families of health workers indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they die of Covid-19.

James O'Brien was shocked by the decision, delivering a furious monologue on his show in which he struggled to keep his emotions in check.

He said: "In the United Kingdom in 2020, you die as a result of your work in the Health Service and the Home Secretary tells your grieving family that there is a scheme for families of workers who died, but your mum doesn't qualify because she was just a cleaner. Your dad doesn't qualify because he was just a care worker."

LBC's Westminster Correspondent Ben Kentish then followed it up in the Downing Street press conference, asking Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden why carers and cleaners have been left out of the scheme.

Mr Dowden responded that the policy would be kept under review.

Just 32 minutes after the end of the press conference, the Home Office announced they were extending the scheme to all NHS support staff.

Home Secretary Priti 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."

Ben told James that it was both his monologue and this remarkable video from Hassan Akkad which made him decide to ask that particular question.

Hassan is a BAFTA Award-winning film-maker, who came to Britain from Syria. Just as the coronavirus crisis hit the UK, he decided to help out by getting a job as a cleaner in a London hospital.

His video saying how he felt betrayed by the Home Office decision was viewed by almost 4 million people on Twitter.

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