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21 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Government U-turns on NHS migrant surcharge, exempting all health and social care workers

By Samuel Horti

All migrant NHS and care staff will soon be exempt from the £400 annual surcharge overseas workers must pay to use the health service, Downing Street has said.

The news marks a U-turn for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who yesterday insisted the surcharge was the “right way forward” because of the money it makes for the NHS. If follows pressure from senior Conservatives to axe the “mean-spirited” charge.

The exemption will cover all medical staff, porters, cleaners, independent health workers and social care workers, a No 10 spokesman said.

“The PM has asked the Home Office and the Department for Health and Social Care to remove NHS and care workers from the NHS surcharge as soon as possible,” they said.

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“Work by officials is now underway on how to implement the change and full details will be announced in the coming days. As the PM said in the House of Commons, he has been thinking about this a great deal. He been a personal beneficiary of carers from abroad and understands the difficulties faced by our amazing NHS staff.

“The purpose of the NHS surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives. NHS and care workers from abroad who are granted visas are doing this already by the fantastic contribution which they make.”

Labour and the Scottish National Party have long-called for the exemption.

(Image credit: HANNAH MCKAY / AFP)