NHS and social care staff no longer have to pay £624 immigrant surcharge – and can get refunds backdated to March
NHS and social care staff from abroad will no longer have to pay the £624 immigrant surcharge, Matt Hancock announced today.
And they will be eligible to apply for a refund backdated to March, the Health Secretary said this afternoon.
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Matt Hancock confirmed those who had paid the charge would get a refund[/caption]
Workers coming to the UK from outside the European Economic Area have to pay a fee to use the health service which will soon increase from £400 a year to £624.
Boris Johnson first announced the news back in March, u-turning on a previous position after public outcry.
But there was no date on when this could come into play.
Mr Hancock said today in the House of Commons: “All employees working in health and social care will be exempt front the immigrant health surcharge.
“And all employees in health and social care who have paid the immigration health surcharge on or after the 31 March will be eligible for a reimbursement.
“We value enormously the work they do across the NHS and all across social care, and I’m glad we have been able to make this announcement.”
The PM is said to have been “thinking” about the issue for some time – after doctors in the NHS saved his life earlier this year.
After getting out of intensive care Boris was reported to have said to doctors: “I owe you my life.”
No10 confirmed this evening that work is now underway, and the full details of the changes will be released in the coming days.
A spokesperson said at the time: “[Boris Johnson] 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.”
The change came after a BAFTA award-winning filmmaker turned hospital cleaner, who works on a coronavirus ward, blasted the surcharge for migrant health workers who “risk their lives on the frontline”.
Syrian refugee Hassan Akkad, 32, a photographer and filmmaker, said that for many health workers, the surcharge was two weeks’ worth of pay.
Speaking to Good Morning Britain, he said: “It’s unfair and it’s unjust.
“I would also argue that it’s inhumane.
“I’m doing this job temporarily but for most cleaners and porters this is two weeks.
“This is the salary of two weeks to access the very same institution that they are now working for during the toughest, worst public health crisis in modern history.”
What is the surcharge and what does it cover?
The NHS Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a one-off payment required by non-British citizens that enables them access to the National Health Service.
It applies to anyone and their dependants wishing to enter the UK under domestic immigration rules.
The IHS was implemented in 2015.
It’s payable when a person initially fills out their visa application, usually paid online.
You can also pay by post.
Once the visa is granted or the payment cleared you can start using the NHS.
You still need to pay for some services, like prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and assisted conception.
If accessing NHS healthcare in the UK, even if you’ve paid your IHS, you should bring your biometric residence permit.
The charge is increasing from £400 to £624 for one year as of October 2020.
However, the longer your visa, the more you’ll pay.
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The U-turn will mean that all NHS workers – everyone from medical staff down to porters and cleaners – won’t have to pay the levy.
But the surcharge will go up for everyone else in October as planned.
The Government thinks its fair to expect people arriving in the UK to pay towards the NHS.
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