Heartbreaking video by NHS hospital cleaner convinces Boris Johnson to make his biggest U-turn yet

Joanna Taylor
Thursday 21 May 2020 08:45
news

An NHS hospital cleaner has been credited with convincing the government to extend their coronavirus bereavement scheme to low paid workers.

In an emotional message to Boris Johnson, Hassan Akkad said that he felt "stabbed in the back" on learning that the families of migrant NHS cleaners, porters and social care workers wouldn't qualify for indefinite leave in the UK if they were to die fighting Covid-19.

Following pressure from Labour, the GMB union and the enormous reaction to Akkad's video, the Home Office announced that they would extend the scheme to the families of low paid workers. It had originally been aimed at the families of those in particular professions, such as nurses.

Tagging Boris Johnson in his tweet, Akkad appealed directly to the prime minister's humanity, saying that he had seen a "humble Boris" discharged from hospital after recovering from Covid-19. ​

I’ve been really enjoying the clapping that you and your fellow ministers and the government do every week. Today, however, I felt betrayed, stabbed in the back. I felt shocked to find out that you’ve decided to exclude myself and my colleagues who work as cleaners and porters and social care workers who are all on minimum wage. You’ve decided to exclude us from the bereavement scheme.

Us migrants are on the frontline doing these very demanding jobs to help this nation overcome this pandemic and the least you can do, if we die, to give indefinite leave to remain. Please reconsider.

Akkad's video, which has been seen 3.7M times, garnered high profile support.

Although Johnson has not publicly acknowledged Akkad's video, many believe it may have helped to influence the government's decision.

The 32 year-old Akkad arrived in the UK in 2015, documenting his perilous journey in the Bafta-winning documentary Exodus: Our Journey to Europe.

He announced on Twitter that he had begun working at Whipps Cross Hospital in east London as a cleaner to "help this nation overcome this pandemic".

Akkad claimed asylum in the UK after fleeing Syria during the peak of the refugee crisis.

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