Boris Johnson has agreed to exempt health and care workers from the NHS surcharge after retreating in the face of a Conservative rebellion. The climbdown came after Tory backbenchers said they would support Labour’s effort to force the government’s hand.
The row broke out on Monday when the Doctor’s Association wrote to Priti Patel, the home secretary, urging the government to abandon the surcharge, which it described as “an insult to all who are serving this country at its time of greatest need”.
The amount of the surcharge has doubled over the five years it has existed. The planned rise to £624 in the autumn will still go ahead, with Mr Hancock saying that the purpose of the surcharge was “to ensure that everybody contributes to the NHS”.
This is the second U-turn on immigration the Home Office has been forced to perform this week. On Wednesday the home secretary announced that she would open up the bereavement scheme and grant the children and families of care workers and NHS support staff the indefinite right to remain in the UK.