United Kingdom urged to scrap healthcare fee for migrant NHS workers

Grant Boone
May 23, 2020

Sir Keir said of the decision: "This is a victory for common decency and the right thing to do".

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But the government performed a U-turn this afternoon, following pressure from backbench Conservative MPs who publicly and privately said they would support the move to exempt migrant NHS and care workers.

Mr Brokenshire added: "I'm just saying that it is complicated, we continue to keep this under review, but the principle of the NHS surcharge, the support that it provides financially to the NHS and indeed that sense of contributing to the NHS, I think, is important".

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

Work by officials is underway and full details will be announced "in the coming days".

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Lord Patten said that the United Kingdom was dependent on "people who come from other countries" to staff care homes, adding that it "would be madness and wickedness not to recognise the contribution which these people are making".

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".

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But he added: "On the other hand we must look at the realities - this is a great national service, it's a national institution, it needs funding and those contributions actually help us to raise about £900 million, and it's very hard in the current circumstances to find alternative sources".

The IHS, introduced in April 2015, is imposed on anyone in the United Kingdom on a work, study or family visa for longer than six months and is set for a further hike from GBP 400 to GBP 624 per year.

"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".

Starmer had raised the issue on Wednesday afternoon, asking whether the charge was fair on health and care workers.

Senior Tories demanded change, with former party chairman Lord Patten calling it "appalling" and "monstrous".

Boris Johnson should never have imposed the NHS surcharge in the first place but I am pleased to see a change of heart following pressure from the SNP and campaigners.

Starmer shared his delight on Twitter writing, "we can not clap for our carers and then charge them to use the NHS the next day".

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