"The Prime Minister will not relent on the levy of health surcharges on NHS and care workers from overseas, he said yesterday.
Mr Johnson's comments angered medical organisations, who have been pressing for improved recognition of the commitment of overseas health and care workers.
Pressed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Johnson said: "I have thought a great deal about this, and I accept and understand the difficulties faced by our amazing NHS staff. I have been a personal beneficiary of carers who have come from abroad and frankly saved my life. I know exactly the importance of what he asks. On the other hand, we must look at the realities.
"This is a great national service—it is a national institution—that needs funding, and those contributions help us to raise about £900 million. It is very difficult in the current circumstances to find alternative sources."
Sir Keir said that a careworker, on the national living wage, would have to work 70 hours to pay the new surcharge rate of £624 a year, citing the Doctors' Association and other medical groups.
Doctors' Association president Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden said: "We know that BAME healthcare workers are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19, yet our dedicated colleagues from overseas contribute to put their lives on the line to serve the NHS. The smallest recognition of this selfless act would be to scrap the surcharge for NHS and social care workers."