London (CNN)Few would envy Britain's embattled National Health Service (NHS) workers over the past year. One of the world's worst Covid-19 tolls has meant grueling shifts, danger, and workplaces full of grief and trauma.
He should be on the frontline of the pandemic response. Instead, he is facing deportation
But Charles Oti would swap places with them in a heartbeat. A microbiologist by training, Nigerian by birth, Oti has spent four years working for the NHS honing a specialism in infection control.
Oti's skills are in short supply and among the UK government's highest priorities for recruitment. But instead of taking a position on the front line of the pandemic response, he has been prevented from working and threatened with deportation.
"I believe I have the skills to make a difference," says Oti. "This has been so frustrating because I am being wasted."
The case represents a personal ordeal and a wider issue. At a time when Britain is heavily reliant on immigrants to staff its essential services, particularly in the NHS, many of these same workers are fighting for their right to remain in the country.
Oti, 46, received a five-year residence permit when he arrived in the UK in 2013 with his partner, a European citizen.
After a spell in the private sector, he took a job with the NHS in London in 2015 as a medical devices coordinator. His regular duties included contamination control and ensuring the safety of equipment such as X-ray machines and respirators.
Better money was available in private enterprise but Oti says that public service suited him. He felt the job made more of a difference to the lives of patients and enjoyed the camaraderie within the NHS's multinational workforce which was "like a family."
There, he says he formed close friendships that helped him adapt to a new country.