The Royal College of Nursing has written to Boris Johnson to confirm that all healthcare staff, including those employed in general practice and social care, will no longer need to pay the NHS surcharge.
The Government announced last month that it would scrap the £400 International Health Surcharge – paid each year by migrants for themselves and every dependent they have – for healthcare workers in the NHS.
In a letter sent yesterday to Mr Johnson, the RCN asked for confirmation that all healthcare workers will be exempt from the charge, including those employed in independent settings and social care, as well as their spouses and dependents.
It stated: ‘At a time when our healthcare system is precariously understaffed, ensuring the exemption truly benefits healthcare staff, their families and dependents is vital to making the UK an attractive place to recruit and retain international staff.’
The letter – also signed by leaders from the British Medical Association, Unison and the Royal College of Physicians – goes on to seek assurances that healthcare staff who have already paid the fee in advance will receive a refund.
The charge, paid on top of income tax and National Insurance payments, 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.
Boris Johnson initially said keeping the annual fee for healthcare staff was the ‘right way forward’, responding to pressure from Labour leader Keir Starmer in prime minister’s questions last month.
But the Government announced a day later that it would scrap the additional payment for healthcare staff, in a move Mr Starmer called ‘a victory for common decency’ on Twitter.
The RCN has consistently campaigned for the charge to be scrapped, last month describing its ‘devastating impact’ on nurses struggling to pay it.
Dame Donna said: ‘The contribution of our overseas nurses, across all settings, has been incredible particularly during the pandemic and it is essential this can continue.
‘Action must be taken now to ensure all those who come here to dedicate themselves to our patients are not penalised for doing so.’