Overseas Health Workers Exempt From NHS Surcharge Fees

Henrietta Strickland
May 23, 2020

"It is fair to expect people arriving in the United Kingdom to work in non-health roles who might use the NHS to make a contribution", a government source said.

"The Prime Minister has asked me and the Home Secretary [Priti Patel] to look at how NHS and care workers can be removed from this as soon as possible", said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, when asked about the annual Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) imposed along with a visa to raise additional funds for the state-funded health service.

Former Conservative Party vice-chairman Sir Roger Gale had warned Mr Johnson that not to waive the current surcharge "would rightly be perceived as mean-spirited, doctrinaire and petty".

"Work by officials is now under way on how to implement the change and full details will be announced in the coming days", the spokesman said. Doctors, nurses and paramedics are now exempt from paying the charge for one year, but there was pressure for No 10 to make this permanent, and to include migrant health care workers.

"The goal of the NHS surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives".

The IHS is a fee that foreign nationals have to pay to use the NHS.

But, announcing the U-turn today, Downing Street said that Mr Johnson "has been thinking about this a great deal" as a "personal beneficiary of carers from overseas".

The annual fee is now 400 pounds and will rise to 624 pounds in October - a high sum for people earning the minimum wage.

"We must all recognise the huge contribution that NHS and care workers make - including many from across the world who have been nothing short of heroic during this public health emergency".

Mr Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, had challenged the Prime Minister over the Conservative policy at this week's Prime Ministers' Questions, at which point Mr Johnson continued to defend the charge.

It also includes independent health workers and social care workers.

Politicians and healthcare workers had put heavy pressure on the government to scrap the surcharge for migrant care workers coming from outside the European Economic Area.

"We can not clap for carers one day and then charge them to use our NHS the next", he said.

It also came a day after another U-turn when the Government extended a scheme offering indefinite leave to remain to the families of all NHS staff who die as a result of contracting coronavirus.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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