The government has been accused of penalising NHS workers from abroad after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced that the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is to be significantly increased, reports The Independent.
‘At a time of unprecedented workforce shortages, this is sending the completely wrong message to talented staff from around the world, who the NHS vitally depends on,’ says British Medical Association (BMA)
The Chancellor announced his Budget speech on Wednesday 11 March, and announced that the IHS, paid annually by migrants living in the UK, would be increasing from £400 to £624 to ensure that that “what people get out, they also put in”.
Campaigners have argued that many of these people are already paying tax and national insurance, and so are being charged twice for NHS treatments.
Children will now have to pay £470, which is triple the cost when the IHS was introduced in 2015. This is on top of ‘sky-high’ visa fees for migrants coming to work in the UK, which currently stand at £1,220 per person, or £900 for those on the shortage occupation list, which are some of the highest fees in the world.
The IHS previously applied to all non-EU citizens, but now, post-Brexit, people from the EU will also be required to pay it.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, council chair at the BMA, said: “The BMA is clear that the UK should be a welcoming nation for our overseas medical workforce who provide essential frontline services to patients in the NHS daily – not one that creates bureaucratic hurdles and financial barriers.”
Caitlin Boswell Jones, project officer at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), warned that the “huge” increase would also price people out of citizenship and status, leading to more people becoming undocumented.
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