The government has extended its bereavement scheme to all NHS support staff and carers.

The scheme offers families of NHS support staff and social care workers who die as result of contracting coronavirus indefinite leave to remain, free of charge.

It previously applied to doctors and nurses from abroad but not cleaners, porters or carers.

This is effective “immediately and retrospectively” after criticism from Labour and trade unions.

It applies to all hospital support workers, including cleaners and porters, social care staff and care home workers, the Home Office said.

NHS workers from abroad, however, will still be expected to pay a surcharge to use the health service.

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.”

Sir Keir Starmer earlier pressed Boris Johnson on the surcharge foreign NHS workers are asked to pay to use the service - with the prime minister responding "that is the right way forward".

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