AN NHS worker who has been helping on the front lines during the second wave of the pandemic is fighting to get an extension on her visa.

Kim Stewart has been working as a support worker at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

She came from her home country of Canada to work in healthcare during the pandemic and hoped to get her visa extended.

The UK Government website says those who work in healthcare and have a visa which expires between April 1 September 30 this year, may be eligible for a one-year extension.

However, Ms Stewart found that this was not available for support workers who are not considered ‘vital’.

Ms Stewart said: “The Government had granted a one-year visa extension to recognise people who had worked tirelessly in hospitals during Covid.

"I applied for it only to be told ‘thanks but no thanks’ essentially.

“I am a support worker, and we are treated differently, despite working as hard and taking the same risks day in and day out.

“I feel like I have already proved my worth to the NHS and to the UK, I feel undervalued, and I think a lot of people in care and support work do.

“The team I was working on was created for the second wave so being on the ICU we helped on the wards and gave a lot of support to people.

“They even created a new role for me ‘Covid champion and infection control’, but despite this I still feel undervalued, and I think a lot of members of the team do.

“I am now in the process of renewing my visa the long way, but I will always know that I am living in a country in which the Government does not value me.

“Support workers are important, and we should not be taken for granted, there was a shortage of support workers of the pandemic, and an army of people came forward from the UK and across the seas.

"I feel sorry for those who have been here since the beginning, since the first wave, they must feel awful."

A government spokesperson said: “We are hugely grateful for all the vital contributions of all staff working in the NHS throughout the last year.

“A free one-year extension was made available to anyone on a visa working in eligible occupations in the NHS or social care in 2020.

“We have also taken steps to support those on unsponsored routes and we keep the list of eligible occupations under constant review.”