Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged Boris Johnson to scrap the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for health workers.
The IHS is a fee that foreign nationals have to pay to use the NHS. It costs £400 per year (but £300 for student visas) and a migrant’s dependants usually need to pay the same amounts.
The government has said it has no plans to review the policy and there are proposals to increase the charge to £624 per year for adults and £470 per year for children.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, the leader of the opposition implored that Mr Johnson reconsider the matter in light of the coronavirus crisis.
“Every Thursday we go out and clap for our carers, many of them are risking their lives for the sakes of all of us,” Sir Keir said.
Despite acknowledging that care workers from abroad had saved his life, referring to his intensive care treatment for Covid-19, the Prime Minister said the UK “must look at the realities”.
“This is a great national service, it’s a national institution, it needs funding, and those contributions actually help us to raise about £900 million. It’s very difficult in the current circumstances to find alternative sources,” he said.
Earlier this week the Doctor’s Association said the refusal to reevaluate the fee was a “gross insult” at a time when health workers are mourning colleagues.
Some 181 NHS workers and 131 social care workers have died with Covid-19 in the UK.
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