Johnson forced to drop NHS surcharge for migrant health workers

Coronavirus – Wed

The No 10 U-turn marks a victory for Sir Keir Starmer.

Nearly four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and worldwide politics.

Speaking to Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4's Political Thinking podcast, he said: "Given the sacrifices that we've seen during the coronavirus pandemic, low-paid frontline health and care workers need to be thought about differently, and I think one of the ways that we could do this is by looking at that surcharge, so I very much hope the government will do something".

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 current fee is £400 per year per person and is set to rise to £624 in October.

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

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

"The Prime Minister has clearly himself been a beneficiary of carers from abroad and we've talked many times during this crisis about the enormous contribution people from overseas have made to the NHS and to social care".

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"NHS and care workers from overseas who are granted visas are doing this already by the fantastic contribution which they make".

"But the goal of the surcharge is a fair one, to raise funds for the NHS", he said.

It also includes independent health workers and social care workers.

"We must look at the realities", Mr Johnson said.

"I have thought a great deal about this and I do accept and understand the difficulties faced by our awesome NHS staff".

The u-turn comes after senior Tories demanded change, with former party chairman Lord Patten calling it "appalling" and "monstrous".

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. "We can not clap our carers one day and then charge them to use our NHS the next".

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