Boris Johnson cancels NHS fee for foreign health workers

A member of medical staff is seen at an NHS coronavirus disease testing facility Wolverhampton Britain

Overseas Health Workers Exempt From NHS Surcharge Fees REUTERS Carl Recine

"In other words, if you are a doctor and nurse then you are on a specific visa when we have that direct contact with the NHS trust".

Ross MP Ian Blackford has welcomed Boris Johnson's "screeching U-turn" on the surcharge for migrant NHS and care workers following pressure from campaigners.

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

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

But, announcing the U-turn today, Downing Street said that Mr Johnson "has been thinking about this a great deal" as a "personal beneficiary of carers from overseas".

On Wednesday, Starmer had challenged the United Kingdom prime minister in the House of Commons during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions on whether he thought it was "fair" to add the surcharge on healthcare workers.

Politicians and healthcare workers have called on the Government to scrap the NHS surcharge for migrant care workers coming from outside the European Economic Area.

The IHS, introduced in April 2015, is imposed on anyone in the United Kingdom on a work, study or family visa for longer than six months and is set for a further hike from GBP 400 to GBP 624 per year.

Labour, the Scottish National Party and the Royal College of Nursing have expressed the view that health workers should be exempt from the "unfair" charge.

The change will apply to all NHS workers, ranging from medical health staff to vital porters and cleaners.

"So with great respect to the point (Sir Keir) makes, I do think that is the right way forward".

"Boris Johnson is right to have U-turned and backed our proposal to remove the NHS charge for health professionals and care workers", said Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer.

"This is a victory for common decency and the right thing to do".

Starmer shared his delight on Twitter writing, "we can not clap for our carers and then charge them to use the NHS the next day".

Tory peer and former party chairman Lord Patten had branded the government's position "appalling" and "immoral" and public-administration and constitutional-affairs committee chairman William Wragg had demanded an immediate change in policy. "These workers have our backs, we will always have theirs".

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "This is long overdue".

This news comes a day after the Home Office extended the NHS Bereavement Scheme to all support staff and social care workers.

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