Overseas health and care staff will shortly be exempted from the fee levied on migrants to pay for the NHS.
Following pressure from senior Tories and members of the opposition Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked home office officials to remove health and care workers from the surcharge “as soon as possible”.
The move will apply to all NHS workers from cleaners and porters to medical health staff, as well as those working independently and in social care.
When pressed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in the Commons on Wednesday, he admitted some of the NHS had saved his life.
But he went on to defend his stance in keeping the fee in place adding:“We must look at the realities.”
“This is a, a great national service, it’s a national institution, it needs funding, and those contributions actually help us to raise about £900 million. It’s very difficult in the current circumstances to find alternative sources.”
Change Of Heart
Within hours of PMQ’s a Downing Street spokesperson told the media: “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.
“As the PM said in the House of Commons, he has been thinking about this a great deal.
“He’s been a personal beneficiary of carers from abroad and understands the difficulties faced by our amazing NHS staff.
“The purpose of the NHS surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives. NHS and care workers from abroad who are granted visas are doing this already by the fantastic contribution which they make.”
Victory For Common Decency
Mr Starmer said: “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.”
Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee chairman William Wragg tweeted: “I will support the NHS fee exemption for migrant NHS and care workers. Now is the time for a generosity of spirit towards those who have done so much good. I am sure that Conservative colleagues will be supportive.”
It’s important to remember however, The £400 surcharge, due to go up to £624 in October, will remain for other categories of visa applicants.
Full details will be disclosed in the next few days.