Government being called for scraping off NHS surcharges for migrant workers, called as ‘moral injustice’

Migrant activists and organizations are requesting the government to extend NHS surcharge waiver to all migrant workers including teachers, bus drivers and charity workers.

This is after Boris Johnson government, taking a policy U- turn, announced on Thursday that NHS overseas staff would not be required to pay 400 pounds a year fee, that was supposed to be increased to 623 pounds in October.

The immigration groups and migrant workers advocacy groups have asked the government to clarify the situation about new policy. The groups have asked for clarification whether this policy would also include the family members of health care workers and exempt them of surcharges.

The said U turn in policy was when Prime Minister Boris Becker received pressure from his MPs as well as the Labour Party.

National Secretary at GMB Union, Rehana Azam said that the group is pressurizing government to extend the surcharge lifting to include other migrant workers too who have been working tirelessly to support the country during pandemic lockdown.

“Migrant workers are on the frontline in so many of our essential services across the public and private sectors, not just in our NHS and care sectors”, Ms. Azam said. She further added that the charges already made must be refunded.

Chiming in the general secretary of Unison, Dave Prentis also asked for the surcharges to be dropped for the family members and also for all the migrant workers.

Migrant advocates and charities working closely with migrant workers are reporting a surge in debt problems among low wage workers who are supposed to pay a surcharge of 1,000 pounds every two and a half years along with visa fee.  

The NHS surcharge is viewed as double tax to be paid by NHS workers which is unfair. The NHS surcharge now being waived off for health workers, the immigration advocates are demanding the same for other essential workers who are charged for NHS.

The demand is now to scrap off the NHS surcharges for all the migrant workers with increased pressure on government by activist groups as well as by the Labour Party.

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Dr. Neha Mathur

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