Doctors have complained of a “kick in the teeth” as the immigration health surcharge is still being enforced, despite the prime minister vowing to scrap it for NHS and care workers.
Boris Johnson said on May 21 that the £400 annual fee, paid by non-EU migrants on top of visa charges to use the NHS, should be removed “as soon as possible” for health and care staff. It represented a U-turn after he had defended the £400-a-year charge at the previous day’s prime minister’s questions.
However, those applying for new visas say they are still being told to pay and getting mixed messages when they ask officials whether any upfront payment will be refunded, or if the fee scrappage applies to their dependants.
Many NHS contracts change over in August, and staff must apply for a new visa when changing employer, making this a peak time of year for health service visa applications.
Dolin Bhagawati, spokesman for the Doctors’ Association UK, said: “We are shocked and dismayed to learn that many doctors are still being charged the immigration health surcharge [IHS] by the Home Office.
“We have long highlighted the immorality of this charge for migrant health and social care staff who already contribute so much to the NHS and social care sectors. This really is a further kick in the teeth for our colleagues who have served us during our time of need. Instead of recognising this contribution, the Home Office insists that the scrapping of the charge is not yet official and must therefore be paid.
“The insincere bureaucratic excuses provided are simply unacceptable. Our colleagues are fed up of empty words and deserve more than just lip service and political sound bites. During a time when trust is vital to governmental communication, a failure to act on such a simple promise is disingenuous and sets a worrying precedent for the future.”
Read the full article in The Time here