Orginal artile publisehd in the Eastern Eye on 6th April 2020
Given the tragic news of the youngest victim of the Coronavirus to be buried as well as the fourth doctor on the front lines to lose his life this week, many from my community were acutely aware that the one thing they had in common was that they were both Muslim Londoners.
Over the last few decades, our NHS has been one of the greatest monuments to the success of immigration in this country. From all over the world, it has welcomed doctors, nurses, porters and cleaners, who have ensured that it remains one of the leading examples of healthcare provision around the world. Without these contributions from immigrants around the world, our NHS today would not be capable of mounting the incredible fightback against the virus, that it has done. It has also not been lost on me that the first four doctors to fall to this virus have all been immigrants, and Muslim, two of whom worked, lived and sadly died in London.
It is important to remember that Muslims make up 10 per cent of all doctors in the NHS, despite being only 5 per cent of the population. Muslims form part of a large contingent of BAME staff in the NHS, in London BAME staff represent 44 per cent of the entire workforce.
The incredible contribution of Muslim and BAME staff to the NHS, is also something we must continue to remember and celebrate.
Speaking to NHS staff on the frontline it is clear that a significant percentage of Covid patients in ICUs have also been Muslim.
Immigrant contributions to our society are far too often overlooked, and it would be an injustice to continue to do so, whilst they give up their lives to protect us and our loved ones. We owe these immigrant NHS workers, as we do to all NHS staff, an immense debt of gratitude. There is no doubt, that these are heroes, who will be remembered in years to come for their sacrifices for this country, in the same way that we remember those who sacrificed their lives for us in World War Two. Just as our war heroes are recognised with medals, we need to seriously consider recognising our NHS heroes in the same way.
What all of this drives home, is the immense importance of immigrant and BAME communities to our society. London in particular, is the great city she is today, thanks to immigrants and their contributions.
In the run up to, and after the Brexit vote, we saw a polarising public discourse on immigration. What the Corona crisis has reminded us – is that if we want our nation to continue to thrive, we must remain open to those seeking to build a better life for themselves and their families. If we need reminding about their value and loyalties, let’s not forget that they were fighting on the front-lines during the greatest crisis our country has seen in a generation.