From the outset of this crisis the Doctors’ Association UK has been calling on the government to extend death in service benefit to all doctors working in the NHS, including all international medical graduates (IMGs). As doctors die in service due to Covid-19 – as they sadly have done – the nation becomes indebted beyond calculation.
Yet, we have had IMG doctors telling us how they fear for their families if they die in service. They worry their death would leave their loved ones destitute and unable to fend for themselves. Many families are in the UK on dependent visas, and these doctors also worry they could end up being deported if they die.
We find it unconscionable that bereaved families will not only potentially be in a position where they become destitute, but then might also find themselves at risk of deportation.
Additionally, we have been campaigning for the NHS surcharge to be abolished for all NHS international healthcare workers and their families for some time. Like most in the NHS, these workers give their all to provide world-class healthcare, free at the point of use, to the people of Britain. It is perverse that they must pay for the privilege to receive that same care. Indeed, with the added and very real risk of death from Covid-19, this situation has gone from the perverse to the spiteful, with Rishi Sunak announcing on the 11th March a rise to the NHS surcharge from £400 to £624.
This is not the way a country rewards its heroes, wherever they might hail from. They came here to serve the NHS and the people of this nation. Now they risk their lives for this cause. We must protect them and their families. The government has a moral imperative to act now.
1. Extend death in service benefit to all NHS doctors
2. Grant all frontline NHS workers and their dependents indefinite leave to remain*
3. Abolish the health surcharge for all NHS workers and their families*”
*for those workers and their families here on work and dependent visas