The Government has scrapped the £400 NHS surcharge for overseas healthcare staff – a day after Prime Minister defended the policy in the House of Commons.
A Downing Street spokesperson said yesterday afternoon: ‘The PM has asked the Home Office and the Department for Health and Social Care to remove NHS and care workers from the NHS surcharge as soon as possible.
‘Work by officials is now underway on how to implement the change and full details will be announced in the coming days.’
The NHS International Health Surcharge – paid by migrants, including healthcare staff, both for themselves and every dependent they have – comes on top of income tax and National Insurance payments.
It is due to increase from £400 to £624 per year per person in October and may also be extended to EU workers for the first time.
Mr Johnson defended the £400 annual fee as the ‘right way forward’ during prime minister’s questions yesterday, in response to Labour Leader Keir Starmer asking whether he thought the surcharge was right considering a lot of the people paying it were ‘risking their lives for us’.
Mr Starmer responded on Twitter: ‘Boris Johnson is right to have u-turned and backed our proposal to remove the NHS charge for health professionals and care workers.
‘This is a victory for common decency and the right thing to do. We cannot clap our carers one day and then charge them to use our NHS the next.’
Home secretary Priti Patel confirmed on Twitter:
Those working to save lives in our NHS and social care sector are heroes.
That’s why, given these extraordinary circumstances, @MattHancock and I are working together to remove NHS and care workers from the NHS surcharge as soon as possible.
We’ll announce further details soon.
— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) May 21, 2020
The Royal College of Nursing yesterday described the ‘devastating’ impact of the surcharge on nurses struggling to pay it.
Earlier this month, it was revealed one in three adults would now consider working for the NHS because of its response to the Covid-19 outbreak.