Immigration Health Surcharge scrapped for healthcare workers in major Government u-turn

Henrietta Brewer
May 23, 2020

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

William Wragg, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee was one of the first Conservatives to support the lifting of the surcharge for health workers.

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

The humiliating U-turn comes just a day after the British Prime Minister told the House of Commons the NZ$800 a year charge on migrants outside the European Union, which was set to increase to $1250 from October, would stay.

Mr Johnson has previously spoken of his admiration for health care workers since being discharged from hospital, and in April singled out two nurses - Jenny McGee from New Zealand and Luís Pitarma from Portugal - who treated him during a critical 48 hours in intensive care.

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

"Every Thursday we go out and clap for our carers".

Many of whom are now putting their lives at risk on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, from paying a fee for healthcare.

Speaking from the Downing Street daily briefing, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said while the goal of the NHS fee is a fair one Mr Johnson now wants to exempt overseas NHS staff and care workers as soon as possible.

But Boris Johnson has rejected the calls.

"He has been a personal beneficiary of carers from overseas and understands the difficulties faced by our incredible NHS staff".

"I have thought a great deal about this and I do accept and understand the difficulties faced by our incredible NHS staff". On the other hand, we must look at the realities that this is a great national service, a national institution which needs funding and those contributions actually help us to raise about 900 million pounds.

"So with great respect to the point (Sir Keir) makes, I do think that is the right way forward".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The situation in relation to those people working within different functions in the NHS is more complicated because of the visa and immigration system that they are likely to be within".

According to a recent Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) study, Indians make up one in 10 of all foreign-born doctors in the NHS and the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), which represents this group, is among the organisations campaigning against the "discriminatory" surcharge for some years now.

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