NHS porters and cleaners and social care staff have been left out of a Home Office scheme granting families of health workers indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they die of coronavirus, it has been revealed.

The exclusion of some of the NHS’s lowest-paid workers – many of them employed by private companies under outsourcing arrangements – was branded an “outrageous scandal” by the GMB union.

Some 8 per cent of social care home workers are foreign nationals from outside the EU, while non-UK nationals are also strongly represented among the ranks of hospital cleaners, porters, security guards and catering staff who are regarded as key workers but do not qualify for the bereavement scheme.

One NHS cleaner from Nigeria, a mother-of-two who gave her name only as Catherine, said she had been in the UK for 10 years working on a “right to remain” visa which had to be regularly renewed. She said it was “hurtful” to know she was being treated differently from colleagues working alongside her at the hospital.

“I love my job but it’s been incredibly dangerous for all of us working in the hospital,” she said.